Breeding of robust industrial Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains with high ethanol tolerance is of great significance for efficient fuel ethanol production. Zinc finger proteins play important roles in gene transcription and translation, and exerting control on the regulation of multiple genes. The sequence and localization of the zinc finger motif can be designed and engineered, and the artificial zinc finger protein can be used to regulate celluar metabolism. Stress tolerance of microbial strains is related to multiple genes. Therefore, it is possible to use artificially-designed zinc finger proteins to breed stress tolerant strains. In this study, a library containing artificial zinc finger protein encoding genes was transformed into the model yeast strain S288c. A recombinant strain named M01 with improved ethanol tolerance was obtained. The plasmid in M01 was isolated, and then transformed into the industrial yeast strain Sc4126. Ethanol tolerance of the recombinant strain of Sc4126 were significantly improved. When high gravity ethanol fermentation using 250 g/L glucose was performed, comparing with the wild-type strain, fermentation time of the recombinant strain was decreased by 24 h and the final ethanol concentration was enhanced by 6.3%. The results of this study demonstrate that artificial zinc finger proteins are able to exert control on stress tolerance of yeast strains, and these results provide basis to construct robust industrial yeast strains for efficient ethanol fermentation.
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