Ethyl carbamate (EC) is a potential carcinogen that forms spontaneously during Chinese rice wine fermentation. The primary precursor for EC formation is urea, which originates from both external sources and arginine degradation. Urea degradation is suppressed by nitrogen catabolite repression (NCR) in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The regulation of NCR is mediated by two positive regulators (Gln3p, Gat1p/Nil1p) and two negative regulators (Dal80p/Uga43p, Deh1p/Nil2p/GZF3p). DAL80 revealed higher transcriptional level when yeast cells were cultivated under nitrogen-limited conditions. In this study, when DAL80-deleted yeast cells were compared to wild-type BY4741 cells, less urea was accumulated, and genes involved in urea utilization were up-regulated. Furthermore, Chinese rice wine fermentation was conducted using dal80Δ cells; the concentrations of urea and EC were both reduced when compared to the BY4741 and traditional fermentation starter. The findings of this work indicated Dal80p is involved in EC formation possibly through regulating urea metabolism and may be used as the potential target for EC reduction.
Keywords: Chinese rice wine brewing; Dal80p; ethyl carbamate; nitrogen catabolite repression.