The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a facultative anaerobic organism. Under anaerobiosis, sustained growth relies on the presence of exogenously supplied unsaturated fatty acids and ergosterol that yeast is unable to synthesize in the absence of oxygen or upon haem depletion. In the absence of exogenous supplementation with unsaturated fatty acid, a net accumulation of SFA (saturated fatty acid) is observed that induces significant modification of phospholipid profile [Ferreira, Régnacq, Alimardani, Moreau-Vauzelle and Bergès (2004) Biochem. J. 378, 899–908]. In the present paper, we focus on the role of SFH2/CSR1, a hypoxic gene related to SEC14 and its involvement in lipid metabolism upon haem depletion in the absence of oleic acid supplementation. We observed that inactivation of SFH2 results in enhanced accumulation of SFA and phospholipid metabolism alterations. It results in premature growth arrest and leads to an exacerbated sensitivity to exogenous SFA. This phenotype is suppressed in the presence of exogenous oleic acid, or by a controlled expression of FAS1, one of the two genes encoding FAS. We present several lines of evidence to suggest that Sfh2p and oleic acid regulate SFA synthase in yeast at different levels: whereas oleic acid acts on FAS2 at the transcriptional level, we show that Sfh2p inhibits fatty acid synthase activity in response to haem depletion.

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