BACKGROUND: Quercetin is a naturally occurring flavonol with antioxidant, anticancer and anti-ageing properties. In this study we aimed to identify genes differentially expressed in yeast cells treated with quercetin and its role in oxidative stress protection. METHODS: A microarray analysis was performed to characterize changes in the transcriptome and the expression of selected genes was validated by RT-qPCR. Biological processes significantly affected were identified by using the FUNSPEC software and their relevance in H(2)O(2) resistance induced by quercetin was assessed. RESULTS: Genes associated with RNA metabolism and ribosome biogenesis were down regulated in cells treated with quercetin, whereas genes associated with carbohydrate metabolism, endocytosis and vacuolar proteolysis were up regulated. The induction of genes related to the metabolism of energy reserves, leading to the accumulation of the stress protectant disaccharide trehalose, and the activation of the cell wall integrity pathway play a key role in oxidative stress resistance induced by quercetin. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that quercetin may act as a modulator of cell signaling pathways related to carbohydrate metabolism and cell integrity to exert its protective effects against oxidative stress.
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