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Open Access Research article

Differential gene expression and Hog1 interaction with osmoresponsive genes in the extremely halotolerant black yeast Hortaea werneckii

Tomaž Vaupotič and Ana Plemenitaš*

Author Affiliations

Institute of Biochemistry, University of Ljubljana Faculty of Medicine, Vrazov Trg 2, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

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BMC Genomics 2007, 8:280  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-280

Published: 16 August 2007

Abstract

Background

Fluctuations in external salinity force eukaryotic cells to respond by changes in the gene expression of proteins acting in protective biochemical processes, thus counteracting the changing osmotic pressure. The high-osmolarity glycerol (HOG) signaling pathway is essential for the efficient up-regulation of the osmoresponsive genes. In this study, the differential gene expression of the extremely halotolerant black yeast Hortaea werneckii was explored. Furthermore, the interaction of mitogen-activated protein kinase HwHog1 and RNA polymerase II with the chromatin in cells adapted to an extremely hypersaline environment was analyzed.

Results

A cDNA subtraction library was constructed for H. werneckii, adapted to moderate salinity or an extremely hypersaline environment of 4.5 M NaCl. An uncommon osmoresponsive set of 95 differentially expressed genes was identified. The majority of these had not previously been connected with the adaptation of salt-sensitive S. cerevisiae to hypersaline conditions. The transcriptional response in hypersaline-adapted and hypersaline-stressed cells showed that only a subset of the identified genes responded to acute salt-stress, whereas all were differentially expressed in adapted cells. Interaction with HwHog1 was shown for 36 of the 95 differentially expressed genes. The majority of the identified osmoresponsive and HwHog1-dependent genes in H. werneckii have not been previously reported as Hog1-dependent genes in the salt-sensitive S. cerevisiae. The study further demonstrated the co-occupancy of HwHog1 and RNA polymerase II on the chromatin of 17 up-regulated and 2 down-regulated genes in 4.5 M NaCl-adapted H. werneckii cells.

Conclusion

Extremely halotolerant H. werneckii represents a suitable and highly relevant organism to study cellular responses to environmental salinity. In comparison with the salt-sensitive S. cerevisiae, this yeast shows a different set of genes being expressed at high salt concentrations and interacting with HwHog1 MAP kinase, suggesting atypical processes deserving of further study.