The addition of SO 2 is practiced in the wine industry to mitigate the risk of microbial spoilage and to extend wine shelf-life. Generally, this strategy does not interfere with primary alcoholic fermentation, as wine strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae exhibit significant SO 2 tolerance, largely driven by the efflux pump Ssu1p. One of the key yeast species responsible for wine spoilage is Brettanomyces bruxellensis, which also exhibits strain-dependent SO 2 tolerance, although this occurs via unknown mechanisms. To evaluate the factors responsible for the differential sulfite tolerance observed in B. bruxellensis strains, we employed a multifaceted approach to examine both expression and allelic differences in the BbSSU1 gene. Transcriptomic analysis following exposure to SO 2 highlighted different inducible responses in two B. bruxellensis strains. It also revealed disproportionate transcription of one putative BbSSU1 haplotype in both genetic backgrounds. Here, we confirm the functionality of BbSSU1 by complementation of a null mutant in a S. cerevisiae wine strain. The expression of four distinct BbSSU1 haplotypes in the S. cerevisiae δSSU1 mutant revealed up to a 3-fold difference in conferred SO 2 tolerance. Substitution of key amino acids distinguishing the encoded proteins was performed to evaluate their relative contribution to SO 2 tolerance. Protein modeling of two haplotypes which differed in two amino acid residues suggested that these substitutions affect the binding of Ssu1p ligands near the channel opening. Taken together, preferential transcription of a BbSSU1 allele that encodes a more efficient Ssu1p transporter may represent one mechanism that contributes to differences in sulfite tolerances between B. bruxellensis strains.
- Allele specific expression