The Crabtree effect, in which fermentative metabolism is preferred at the expense of respiration, is a hallmark of budding yeast's glucose response and a model for the Warburg effect in human tumors. While the glucose-responsive transcriptional repressors Mig1p and Mig2p play well-characterized roles in the Crabtree effect, little function for the related Mig3p transcription factor has been uncovered, despite numerous investigations of laboratory yeast strains. Here we studied a wild isolate of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to uncover a critical role for Mig3p that has been lost in S288c-derived laboratory strains. We found that Mig3p affects the expression of hundreds of glucose-responsive genes in the oak strain YPS163, both during growth under standard conditions and upon ethanol treatment. Our results suggest that Mig3p may act as a multifunctional activator/repressor that plays separate roles under standard vs. stress conditions and that this function has been largely lost in the lab strains. Population analysis suggests that the lab strain and several wild strains harbor mutations that diminish Mig3p function. Thus, by expanding our attention to multiple genetic backgrounds, we have uncovered an important missing link in a key metabolic response.
Keywords: Saccharomyces cerevisiae; environmental stress; gene expression; glucose signaling; natural variation.