Homocysteine regulates fatty acid and lipid metabolism in yeast

J Biol Chem. 2018 Apr 13;293(15):5544-5555. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M117.809236. Epub 2018 Feb 6.


S-Adenosyl-l-homocysteine hydrolase (AdoHcy hydrolase; Sah1 in yeast/AHCY in mammals) degrades AdoHcy, a by-product and strong product inhibitor of S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet)-dependent methylation reactions, to adenosine and homocysteine (Hcy). This reaction is reversible, so any elevation of Hcy levels, such as in hyperhomocysteinemia (HHcy), drives the formation of AdoHcy, with detrimental consequences for cellular methylation reactions. HHcy, a pathological condition linked to cardiovascular and neurological disorders, as well as fatty liver among others, is associated with a deregulation of lipid metabolism. Here, we developed a yeast model of HHcy to identify mechanisms that dysregulate lipid metabolism. Hcy supplementation to wildtype cells up-regulated cellular fatty acid and triacylglycerol content and induced a shift in fatty acid composition, similar to changes observed in mutants lacking Sah1. Expression of the irreversible bacterial pathway for AdoHcy degradation in yeast allowed us to dissect the impact of AdoHcy accumulation on lipid metabolism from the impact of elevated Hcy. Expression of this pathway fully suppressed the growth deficit of sah1 mutants as well as the deregulation of lipid metabolism in both the sah1 mutant and Hcy-exposed wildtype, showing that AdoHcy accumulation mediates the deregulation of lipid metabolism in response to elevated Hcy in yeast. Furthermore, Hcy supplementation in yeast led to increased resistance to cerulenin, an inhibitor of fatty acid synthase, as well as to a concomitant decline of condensing enzymes involved in very long-chain fatty acid synthesis, in line with the observed shift in fatty acid content and composition.

Keywords: S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine; S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine hydrolase; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; fatty acid; homocysteine; hyperhomocysteinemia; lipid; triacylglycerol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosylhomocysteinase / genetics
  • Adenosylhomocysteinase / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids / genetics
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / genetics
  • Hyperhomocysteinemia / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • S-Adenosylhomocysteine / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism*


  • Fatty Acids
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • S-Adenosylhomocysteine
  • Adenosylhomocysteinase