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Epistasis for Growth Rate and Total Metabolic Flux in Yeast

By Agata Jakubowska and Ryszard Korona


Studies of interactions between gene deletions repeatedly show that the effect of epistasis on the growth of yeast cells is roughly null or barely positive. These observations relate generally to the pace of growth, its costs in terms of required metabolites and energy are unknown. We measured the maximum rate at which yeast cultures grow and amounts of glucose they consume per synthesized biomass for strains with none, single, or double gene deletions. Because all strains were maintained under a fermentative mode of growth and thus shared a common pattern of metabolic processes, we used the rate of glucose uptake as a proxy for the total flux of metabolites and energy. In the tested sample, the double deletions showed null or slightly positive epistasis both for the mean growth and mean flux. This concordance is explained by the fact that average efficiency of converting glucose into biomass was nearly constant, that is, it did not change with the strength of growth effect. Individual changes in the efficiency caused by gene deletions did have a genetic basis as they were consistent over several environments and transmitted between single and double deletion strains indicating that the efficiency of growth, although independent of its rate, was appreciably heritable. Together, our results suggest that data on the rate of growth can be used as a proxy for the rate of total metabolism when the goal is to find strong individual interactions or estimate the mean epistatic effect. However, it may be necessary to assay both growth and flux in order to detect smaller individual effects of epistasis

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Publisher: Public Library of Science
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