• heat shock protein;
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae;
  • force spectroscopy;
  • soft particle theory;
  • AFM;
  • Congo red


In this study, we investigate the electrohydrodynamic and nanomechanical characteristics of two Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast strains, a wild-type (WT) strain and a strain overexpressing (OE) Hsp12p, in the presence and absence of hydrophobic Congo red compound. By combining these two advanced biophysical methods, we demonstrate that Hsp12p proteins are mostly located within a thin layer (c. 10 nm thick) positioned at the external side of the cell wall. However, this Hsp12p-enriched layer does not prevent Congo red from entering the cell wall and from interacting with the chitin therein. The entrance of Congo red within the cell wall is reflected in an increase of the turgor pressure for the OE strain and a decrease of that for the WT strain. It is shown that these opposite trends are consistent with significant modulations of the water content within the cell wall from/to the cytoplasm. These are the result of changes in the hydrophobicity/hydrophilicity balance, as governed by the intertwined local concentration variations of Congo red and Hsp12p across the cell wall. In particular, the decrease of the turgor pressure in the case of WT strain upon addition of Congo red is shown to be consistent with an upregulation of Hsp12p in the close vicinity of the plasma membrane.