Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Time course gene expression profiling of yeast spore germination reveals a network of transcription factors orchestrating the global response

Cecilia Geijer1, Ivan Pirkov1, Wanwipa Vongsangnak23, Abraham Ericsson1, Jens Nielsen2, Marcus Krantz14 and Stefan Hohmann1*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Gothenburg, Box 462, Gothenburg, S-40530, Sweden

2 Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, S-412 96, Sweden

3 Present address: Center for Systems Biology, Soochow University, Suzhou, 215006, China

4 Present address: Theoretical Biophysics, Humboldt-Universit├Ąt zu Berlin, Invalidenstr. 42, Berlin, 10115, Germany

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2012, 13:554  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-554

Published: 15 October 2012



Spore germination of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a multi-step developmental path on which dormant spores re-enter the mitotic cell cycle and resume vegetative growth. Upon addition of a fermentable carbon source and nutrients, the outer layers of the protective spore wall are locally degraded, the tightly packed spore gains volume and an elongated shape, and eventually the germinating spore re-enters the cell cycle. The regulatory pathways driving this process are still largely unknown. Here we characterize the global gene expression profiles of germinating spores and identify potential transcriptional regulators of this process with the aim to increase our understanding of the mechanisms that control the transition from cellular dormancy to proliferation.


Employing detailed gene expression time course data we have analysed the reprogramming of dormant spores during the transition to proliferation stimulated by a rich growth medium or pure glucose. Exit from dormancy results in rapid and global changes consisting of different sequential gene expression subprograms. The regulated genes reflect the transition towards glucose metabolism, the resumption of growth and the release of stress, similar to cells exiting a stationary growth phase. High resolution time course analysis during the onset of germination allowed us to identify a transient up-regulation of genes involved in protein folding and transport. We also identified a network of transcription factors that may be regulating the global response. While the expression outputs following stimulation by rich glucose medium or by glucose alone are qualitatively similar, the response to rich medium is stronger. Moreover, spores sense and react to amino acid starvation within the first 30 min after germination initiation, and this response can be linked to specific transcription factors.


Resumption of growth in germinating spores is characterized by a highly synchronized temporal organisation of up- and down-regulated genes which reflects the metabolic reshaping of the quickening spores.

Sporulation; Germination; Saccharomyces cerevisiae