Identification of the gene PaEMT1 for biosynthesis of mannosylerythritol lipids in the basidiomycetous yeast Pseudozyma antarctica

Tomotake Morita, Emi Ito, Hiroko K. Kitamoto, Kaoru Takegawa, Tokuma Fukuoka, Tomohiro Imura, Dai Kitamoto

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25 Citations (Scopus)


The yeast Pseudozyma antarctica produces a large amount of glycolipid biosurfactants known as mannosylerythritol lipids (MELs), which show not only excellent surface-active properties but also versatile biochemical actions. To investigate the biosynthesis of MELs in the yeast, we recently reported expressed sequence tag (EST) analysis and estimated genes expressing under MEL production conditions. Among the genes, a contiguous sequence of 938 bp, PA_004, showed high sequence identity to the gene emt1, encoding an erythritol/mannose transferase of Ustilago maydis, which is essential for MEL biosynthesis. The predicted translation product of the extended PA_004 containing the two introns and a stop codon was aligned with Emt1 of U. maydis. The predicted amino acid sequence shared high identity (72%) with Emt1 of U. maydis, although the amino-terminal was incomplete. To identify the gene as PaEMT1 encoding an erythritol/mannose transferase of P. antarctica, the gene-disrupted strain was developed by the method for targeted gene disruption, using hygromycin B resistance as the selection marker. The obtained ΔPaEMT1 strain failed to produce MELs, while its growth was the same as that of the parental strain. The additional mannosylerythritol into culture allowed ΔPaEMT1 strain to form MELs regardless of the carbon source supplied, indicating a defect of the erythritol/mannose transferase activity. Furthermore, we found that MEL formation is associated with the morphology and low-temperature tolerance of the yeast.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)905-917
Number of pages13
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Genetics


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