Formation of hydrogen sulfide from cysteine in Saccharomyces cerevisiae BY4742: genome wide screen reveals a central role of the vacuole

PLoS One. 2014 Dec 17;9(12):e113869. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113869. eCollection 2014.


Discoveries on the toxic effects of cysteine accumulation and, particularly, recent findings on the many physiological roles of one of the products of cysteine catabolism, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), are highlighting the importance of this amino acid and sulfur metabolism in a range of cellular activities. It is also highlighting how little we know about this critical part of cellular metabolism. In the work described here, a genome-wide screen using a deletion collection of Saccharomyces cerevisiae revealed a surprising set of genes associated with this process. In addition, the yeast vacuole, not previously associated with cysteine catabolism, emerged as an important compartment for cysteine degradation. Most prominent among the vacuole-related mutants were those involved in vacuole acidification; we identified each of the eight subunits of a vacuole acidification sub-complex (V1 of the yeast V-ATPase) as essential for cysteine degradation. Other functions identified included translation, RNA processing, folate-derived one-carbon metabolism, and mitochondrial iron-sulfur homeostasis. This work identified for the first time cellular factors affecting the fundamental process of cysteine catabolism. Results obtained significantly contribute to the understanding of this process and may provide insight into the underlying cause of cysteine accumulation and H2S generation in eukaryotes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cysteine / metabolism
  • Gene Deletion
  • Genome, Fungal / genetics*
  • Genomics
  • Haploidy
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / cytology*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Vacuoles / metabolism*


  • Cysteine
  • Hydrogen Sulfide

Grants and funding

This study was funded by Laffort Australia. Gal Winter was a PhD student at the University of Western Sydney and The Australian Wine Research Institute. Antonio G. Cordente and Chris Curtin are employed by The Australian Wine Research Institute. The Australian Wine Research Institute is supported by Australia's grape growers and winemakers through their investment agency the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation, with matching funds from the Australian Government. The funder had no role articulated in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The Australian Wine Research Institute provided support in the form of salaries for authors AGC and CC, but did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The specific roles of these authors are in the "author contributions" section.