Significance of the KlLAC1 gene in glucosylceramide production by Kluyveromyces lactis


  • Editor: Guenther Daum

Correspondence: Yuji Oda, Department of Food Science, Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Obihiro, Hokkaido 080-8555, Japan. Tel.: +81 155 49 5554; fax: +81 155 49 5554; e-mail:


Each of the 12 genes involved in the synthesis of glucosylceramide was overexpressed in cells of Kluyveromyces lactis to construct a strain accumulating a high quantity of glucosylceramide. Glucosylceramide was doubled by the KlLAC1 gene, which encodes ceramide synthase, and not by 11 other genes, including the KlLAG1 gene, a homologue of KlLAC1. Disruption of the KlLAC1 gene reduced the content below the detection level. Heterologous expression of the KlLAC1 gene in the cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae caused the accumulation of ceramide, composed of C18 fatty acid. The KlLAC1 protein preferred long-chain (C18) fatty acids to very-long-chain (C26) fatty acids for condensation with sphingoid bases and seemed to supply a ceramide moiety as the substrate for the formation of glucosylceramide. When the amino acid sequences of ceramide synthase derived from eight yeast species were compared, LAC1 proteins from five species producing glucosylceramide were clearly discriminated from those of the other three species and all LAG1 proteins. The LAC1 protein of K. lactis is the enzyme that plays a crucial role in the synthesis of glucosylceramide.