The Goldilocks effect of respiration on canavanine tolerance in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Marina Druseikis, Julius Ben-Ari, Shay Covo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


When glucose is available, Saccharomyces cerevisiae prefers fermentation to respiration. In fact, it can live without respiration at all. Here, we study the role of respiration in stress tolerance in yeast. We found that colony growth of respiratory-deficient yeast (petite) is greatly inhibited by canavanine, the toxic analog of arginine that causes proteotoxic stress. We found lower amounts of the amino acids involved in arginine biosynthesis in petites compared with WT. This finding may be explained by the fact that petite cells exposed to canavanine show reduction in the efficiency of targeting of proteins required for arginine biosynthesis. The retrograde (RTG) pathway signals mitochondrial stress. It positively controls production of arginine precursors. We show that canavanine abrogates RTG signaling especially in petite cells, and mutants in the RTG pathway are extremely sensitive to canavanine. We suggest that petite cells are naturally ineffective in production of some amino acids; combination of this fact with the effect of canavanine on the RTG pathway is the simplest explanation why petite cells are inhibited by canavanine. Surprisingly, we found that canavanine greatly inhibits colony formation when WT cells are forced to respire. Our research proposes a novel connection between respiration and proteotoxic stress.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1199-1215
Number of pages17
JournalCurrent Genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Amino acids
  • Arginine biosynthesis
  • Canavanine
  • Mitochondria
  • Petite
  • Respiration
  • Yeast


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