Engineering pathways for malate degradation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Abstract

Deacidification of grape musts is crucial for the production of well-balanced wines, especially in colder regions of the world. The major acids in wine are tartaric and malic acid. Saccharomyces cerevisiae cannot degrade malic acid efficiently due to the lack of a malate transporter and the low substrate affinity of its malic enzyme. We have introduced efficient pathways for malate degradation in S. cerevisiae by cloning and expressing the Schizosaccharomyces pombe malate permease (mae1) gene with either the S. pombe malic enzyme (mae2) or Lactococcus lactis malolactic (mleS) gene in this yeast. Under aerobic conditions, the recombinant strain expressing the mae1 and mae2 genes efficiently degraded 8 g/L of malate in a glycerol-ethanol medium within 7 days. The recombinant malolactic strain of S. cerevisiae (mael and mleS genes) fermented 4.5 g/L of malate in a synthetic grape must within 4 days.

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