Tryptophan biosynthesis is important for resistance to replicative stress in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Yeast. 2016 May;33(5):183-9. doi: 10.1002/yea.3150. Epub 2016 Mar 21.


Acute tryptophan depletion is used to induce low levels of serotonin in the brain. This method has been widely used in psychiatric studies to evaluate the effect of low levels of serotonin, and is generally considered a safe and reversible procedure. Here we use the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to study the effects of tryptophan depletion on growth rate upon exposure to DNA-damaging agents. Surprisingly, we found that budding yeast undergoing tryptophan depletion were more sensitive to DNA-damaging agents such as methyl methanesulphonate (MMS) and hydroxyurea (HU). We found that this defect was independent of several DNA repair pathways, such as homologous recombination, base excision repair and translesion synthesis, and that this damage sensitivity was not due to impaired S-phase signalling. Upon further analysis, we found that the DNA-damage sensitivity of tryptophan depletion was likely due to impaired protein synthesis. These studies describe an important source of variance in budding yeast when using tryptophan as an auxotrophic marker, particularly on studies focusing on DNA repair, and suggest that further testing of the effect of tryptophan depletion on DNA repair in mammalian cells is warranted. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords: DNA repair; DNA replication; Protein synthesis; Saccharomyces; Tryptophan.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division / physiology*
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair / physiology
  • DNA, Fungal / genetics
  • DNA, Fungal / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology*
  • Tryptophan / biosynthesis*
  • Tryptophan / metabolism


  • DNA, Fungal
  • Tryptophan