In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, UFA (unsaturated fatty acids) and ergosterol syntheses are aerobic processes that require haem. We took advantage of a strain affected in haem synthesis (hem1Δ) to starve specifically for one or the other of these essential lipids in order to examine the consequences on the overall lipid composition. Our results demonstrate that reserve lipids (i.e. triacylglycerols and steryl esters) are depleted independently of haem availability and that their UFA and sterol content is not crucial to sustain residual growth under lipid depletion. In parallel to UFA starvation, a net accumulation of SFA (saturated fatty acids) is observed as a consequence of haem biosynthesis preclusion. Interestingly, the excess SFA are not mainly stored within triacylglycerols and steryl esters but rather within specific phospholipid species, with a marked preference for PtdIns. This results in an increase in the cellular PtdIns content. However, neutral lipid homoeostasis is perturbed under haem starvation. The contribution of two lipid particle-associated proteins (namely Tgl1p and Dga1p) to this process is described.

Abbreviations used: ALA, δ-aminolevulinate; DAG, diacylglycerol; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; PtdCho, phosphatidylcholine; PtdEtn, phosphatidylethanolamine; PtdOH, phosphatidic acid; PtdSer, phosphatidylserine; SE, steryl esters; SFA, saturated fatty acids; TG, triacylglycerols; UFA, unsaturated fatty acids; CDP-DAG, cytidine diphosphate diacylglycerol.

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