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Dependence of Inorganic Polyphosphate Chain Length on the Orthophosphate Content in the Culture Medium of the Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

V. M. Vagabov*, L. V. Trilisenko, and I. S. Kulaev

Skryabin Institute of Biochemistry and Physiology of Microorganisms, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pushchino, Moscow Region, 142292 Russia; fax: (7-095) 923-3602; E-mail: kulaev@ibpm.serpukhov.su

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received November 10, 1999
The content of inorganic linear polyphosphate (polyP) and the polymeric degree (n) of these compounds were determined in the process of growth of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae VKM Y-1173 in a medium, which contained varying Pi amount with the constant level of all the necessary components. For this purpose, a combination of chemical methods of polyP extraction and 31P-NMR spectroscopy studies of their chain length were used. After 7 h of phosphate starvation, the yeast was shown to use almost completely the phosphate reserve in the form of polyP localized in various cell compartments to support their vitality. The polyP drop was followed by a considerable shortening of the polymer chain length of acid-soluble (polyP1) and two alkali-soluble (polyP3 and polyP4) fractions. Under the same conditions, the content of a salt-soluble fraction (polyP2) decreased almost 20-fold followed by a simultaneous increase of the chain length nearly 2-fold. As a result, fraction chain length ranged up to n = 40-45. Replacement of the yeast cells after phosphate starvation to a complete phosphate- and glucose-containing medium resulted in super-accumulation (“overcompensation”) of polyP within 2 h mainly in polyP3 and, to a lesser degree, in polyP1, polyP2, and polyP5 fractions. In polyP4 fraction localized as polyP3 at the cell surface, the polyP super-accumulation was not detected. The increase of polyP amount in the fractions mentioned turned out not to be accompanied by simultaneous elongation of their chain length and occurred at the lowest level that is characteristic of a polymer level for each fraction. Further cultivation of the yeast on the complete medium during 2 h had little or no effect on polyP content in the cells but led to elongation of polyP chain length especially in the polyP3 and polyP4 fractions. A phenomenon of considerable elongation of polyP chain length against the background of their fixed content revealed in the yeast growing on the complete medium suggests that these organisms possess a previously unknown discrete way of polyP biosynthesis, which results first in the formation of comparatively low-molecular-mass chains followed by that of high-molecular-mass polymers.
KEY WORDS: yeast, polyphosphates, overcompensation, 31P-NMR spectroscopy