The intensive use of herbicides may give rise to a number of toxicological problems in non-target organisms and has led to the emergence of resistant weeds. To gain insights into the mechanisms of adaptation to the herbicide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), we have identified variations in protein expression level in the eukaryotic experimental model Saccharomyces cerevisiae exposed to herbicide aggression, based on two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. We show results suggesting that during the adaptation period preceding the resumption of inhibited exponential growth under herbicide stress, the antioxidant enzyme Ahp1p and the heat shock proteins Hsp12p and Ssb2p (or Ssb1p) are present in higher amounts. The increased level of other enzymes involved in protein (Cdc48p) and mRNA (Dcp1p) degradation, in carbohydrate metabolism (Eno1p, Eno2p and Glk1p) and in vacuolar H(+)-ATPase (V-ATPase) function (Vma1p and Vma2p, two subunits of the peripheral catalytic sector) was also registered. V-ATPase is involved in the homeostasis of intracellular pH and in the compartmentalization of amino acids and other metabolites in the vacuole. The increased expression of amino acid biosynthetic enzymes (Arg1p, Aro3p, Aro8p, Gdh1p, His4p, Ilv3p and Met6p), also suggested by comparative analysis of the proteome, was correlated with the reduction of amino acid concentration registered in both the vacuole and the cytosol of 2,4-D-stressed cells, possibly due to the disturbance of vacuolar and plasma membrane functions by the lipophilic acid herbicide.
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