The importance of a functional trehalose biosynthetic pathway for the life of yeasts and fungi


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The view of the role of trehalose in yeast has changed in the last few years. For a long time considered a reserve carbohydrate, it gained new importance when its function in the acquisition of thermotolerance was demonstrated. More recently the cellular processes in which the trehalose biosynthetic pathway has been implicated range from the control of glycolysis to sporulation and infectivity by certain fungal pathogens. There is now enough experimental evidence to conclude that trehalose 6-phosphate, an intermediate of trehalose biosynthesis, is an important metabolic regulator in such different organisms as yeasts or plants. Its inhibition of hexokinase plays a key role in the control of the glycolytic flux in Saccharomyces cerevisiae but other, likely important, sites of action are still unknown. We present examples of the phenotypes produced by mutations in the two steps of the trehalose biosynthetic pathway in different yeasts and fungi, and whenever possible examine the molecular explanations advanced to interpret them.