Because domesticated Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains have been used to produce fermented food and beverages for centuries without apparent health implications, S. cerevisiae has always been considered a Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) microorganism. However, the number of reported mucosal and systemic S. cerevisiae infections in the human population has increased and fatal infections have occurred even in relatively healthy individuals. In order to gain insight into the pathogenesis of S. cerevisiae and improve our understanding of the emergence of fungal pathogens, we performed a population-based genome-wide environmental association analysis of clinical vs. nonclinical origin in S. cerevisiae. Using tiling array-based, high-density genotypes of 44 clinical and 44 nonclinical S. cerevisiae strains from diverse geographical origins and source substrates, we identified several genetic loci associated with clinical background in S. cerevisiae. Associated polymorphisms within the coding sequences of VRP1, KIC1, SBE22 and PDR5, and the 5′ upstream region of YGR146C indicate the importance of pseudohyphal formation, robust cell wall maintenance and cellular detoxification for S. cerevisiae pathogenesis, and constitute good candidates for follow-up verification of virulence and virulence-related factors underlying the pathogenicity of S. cerevisiae.
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