Saccharomyces cerevisiae T23C (pda1::Tn5ble) is an isogenic gene replacement mutant of the wild-type strain S. cerevisiae T23D. The mutation causes a complete loss of pyruvate dehydrogenase activity. Pyruvate metabolism in this pyruvate-dehydrogenase-negative (Pdh-) strain was investigated in aerobic glucose-limited chemostat cultures, grown at a dilution rate of 0.10 h-1, and compared with the metabolism in the isogenic wild-type strain. Under these conditions, growth of the Pdh- strain was fully respiratory. Enzyme activities in cell-free extracts indicated that the enzymes pyruvate decarboxylase, acetaldehyde dehydrogenase and acetyl-coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) synthetase could provide a functional bypass of the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex. Since this metabolic sequence involves ATP hydrolysis in the acetyl-CoA synthetase reaction, a negative effect of the pda1::Tn5ble mutation on the growth efficiency was anticipated. Indeed, the biomass yield of the Pdh- strain [0.44 g biomass (g glucose)-1] was significantly lower than that of wild-type S. cerevisiae [0.52 g biomass (g glucose)-1]. The effect of the mutation on biomass yield could be quantitatively explained in terms of a lower ATP yield from glucose catabolism and an increased ATP requirement for the synthesis of acetyl-CoA used in anabolism. Control experiments showed that the pda1::Tn5ble mutation did not affect biomass yield in ethanol-limited chemostat cultures. The results support the view that, during aerobic glucose-limited growth of S. cerevisiae at low growth rates, the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex accounts for the major part of the pyruvate flux. Moreover, it is concluded that hydrolysis of pyrophosphate formed in the acetyl-CoA synthetase reaction does not contribute significantly to energy transduction in this yeast. Respiratory-deficient cells did not contribute to glucose metabolism in the chemostat cultures and were probably formed upon plating.
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