Trehalose metabolism in yeast has been linked to a variety of phenotypes, including heat resistance, desiccation tolerance, carbon-source utilization, and sporulation. The relationships among the several phenotypes of mutants unable to synthesize trehalose are not understood, even though the pathway is highly conserved. One of these phenotypes is that tps1? strains cannot reportedly grow on media containing glucose or fructose, even when another carbon source they can use (e.g. galactose) is present. Here we corroborate the recent observation that a small fraction of yeast tps1? cells do grow on glucose, unlike the majority of the population. This is not due to a genetic alteration, but instead resembles the persister phenotype documented in many microorganisms and cancer cells undergoing lethal stress. We extend these observations to show that this phenomenon is glucose-specific, as it does not occur on another highly fermented carbon source, fructose. We further demonstrate that this phenomenon appears to be related to mitochondrial complex III function, but unrelated to inorganic phosphate levels in the cell, as had previously been suggested. Finally, we found that this phenomenon is specific to S288C-derived strains, and is the consequence of a variant in the MKT1 gene.
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