Use of atomic force microscopy (AFM) to explore cell wall properties and response to stress in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae
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- Francois, J.M., Formosa, C., Schiavone, M. et al. Curr Genet (2013) 59: 187. doi:10.1007/s00294-013-0411-0
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Over the past 20 years, the yeast cell wall has been thoroughly investigated by genetic and biochemical methods, leading to remarkable advances in the understanding of its biogenesis and molecular architecture as well as to the mechanisms by which this organelle is remodeled in response to environmental stresses. Being a dynamic structure that constitutes the frontier between the cell interior and its immediate surroundings, imaging cell surface, measuring mechanical properties of cell wall or probing cell surface proteins for localization or interaction with external biomolecules are among the most burning questions that biologists wished to address in order to better understand the structure–function relationships of yeast cell wall in adhesion, flocculation, aggregation, biofilm formation, interaction with antifungal drugs or toxins, as well as response to environmental stresses, such as temperature changes, osmotic pressure, shearing stress, etc. The atomic force microscopy (AFM) is nowadays the most qualified and developed technique that offers the possibilities to address these questions since it allows working directly on living cells to explore and manipulate cell surface properties at nanometer resolution and to analyze cell wall proteins at the single molecule level. In this minireview, we will summarize the most recent contributions made by AFM in the analysis of the biomechanical and biochemical properties of the yeast cell wall and illustrate the power of this tool to unravel unexpected effects caused by environmental stresses and antifungal agents on the surface of living yeast cells.