Published by Elsevier Science B.V. on behalf of the Federation of European Microbiological Societies
FEMS Yeast Research vol:9 issue:2 pages:178-190
The Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome encodes a Flo (flocculin) adhesin family responsible for cell-cell and cell-surface adherence. In commonly used laboratory strains, these FLO genes are transcriptionally silent, because of a nonsense mutation in the transcriptional activator FLO8, concealing the potential phenotypic diversity of fungal adhesion. Here, we analyse the distinct adhesion characteristics conferred by each of the five FLO genes in the S288C strain and compare these phenotypes with a strain containing a functional copy of FLO8. Our results show that four FLO genes confer flocculation, but with divergent characteristics such as binding strength, carbohydrate recognition and floc size. Adhesion to agar surfaces, on the other hand, largely depended on two adhesins, Flo10 and Flo11. Expression of any FLO gene caused a significant increase in cell wall hydrophobicity. Nevertheless, the capacity to adhere to plastic surfaces, which is believed to depend on hydrophobic interactions, differed strongly between the adhesins. Restoring Flo8 yielded both flocculation and cell-surface adherence, such as invasive growth, a phenotype not observed when any of the single FLO genes was overexpressed. Taken together, this study reveals how S. cerevisiae carries a small reservoir of FLO genes that allows cells to display a wide variety of adhesive properties.