, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 221-226

Cloning of the late genes in the ergosterol biosynthetic pathway ofSaccharomyces cerevisiae—A review

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Research on the ergosterol biosynthetic pathway in fungi has focused on the identification of the specific sterol structure required for normal membrane structure and function and for completion of the cell cycle. The pathway and its end product are also the targets for a number of antifungal drugs. Identification of essential steps in ergo-sterol biosynthesis could provide new targets for the development of novel therapeutic agents. Nine of the eleven genes in the portion of the pathway committed exclusively to ergosterol biosynthesis have been cloned, and their essentiality for aerobic growth has been determined. The first three genes;ERG9 (squalene synthase),ERG1 (squalene epoxidase), andERG7 (lanosterol synthase), have been cloned and found to be essential for aerobic viability since their absence would result in the cell being unable to synthesize a sterol molecule. The remaining eight genes encode enzymes which metabolize the first sterol, lanosterol, to ultimately form ergosterol. The two earliest genes,ERG11 (lanosterol demethylase) andERG24 (C-14 reductase), have been cloned and found to be essential for aerobic growth but are suppressed by mutations in the C-5 desaturase (ERG3) gene andfen1 andfen2 mutations, respectively. The remaining cloned genes,ERG6 (C-24 methylase),ERG2 (D8Æ7 isomerase),ERG3 (C-5 desaturase), andERG4 (C-24(28) reductase), have been found to be nonessential. The remaining genes not yet cloned are the C-4 demethylase and the C-22 desaturase (ERG5).

Based on a paper presented at the Symposium on the “Regulation of Biosynthesis and Function of Isopentenoids”, Atlanta, Georgia, May 1994.