• Yeast;
  • Redox metabolism;
  • Redox shuttle;
  • Respiration;
  • Fermentation;
  • Mitochondrion


In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, reduction of NAD+ to NADH occurs in dissimilatory as well as in assimilatory reactions. This review discusses mechanisms for reoxidation of NADH in this yeast, with special emphasis on the metabolic compartmentation that occurs as a consequence of the impermeability of the mitochondrial inner membrane for NADH and NAD+. At least five mechanisms of NADH reoxidation exist in S. cerevisiae. These are: (1) alcoholic fermentation; (2) glycerol production; (3) respiration of cytosolic NADH via external mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenases; (4) respiration of cytosolic NADH via the glycerol-3-phosphate shuttle; and (5) oxidation of intramitochondrial NADH via a mitochondrial ‘internal’ NADH dehydrogenase. Furthermore, in vivo evidence indicates that NADH redox equivalents can be shuttled across the mitochondrial inner membrane by an ethanol–acetaldehyde shuttle. Several other redox-shuttle mechanisms might occur in S. cerevisiae, including a malate–oxaloacetate shuttle, a malate–aspartate shuttle and a malate–pyruvate shuttle. Although key enzymes and transporters for these shuttles are present, there is as yet no consistent evidence for their in vivo activity. Activity of several other shuttles, including the malate–citrate and fatty acid shuttles, can be ruled out based on the absence of key enzymes or transporters. Quantitative physiological analysis of defined mutants has been important in identifying several parallel pathways for reoxidation of cytosolic and intramitochondrial NADH. The major challenge that lies ahead is to elucidate the physiological function of parallel pathways for NADH oxidation in wild-type cells, both under steady-state and transient-state conditions. This requires the development of techniques for accurate measurement of intracellular metabolite concentrations in separate metabolic compartments.