Response of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to a monoterpene: Evaluation of antifungal potential by DNA microarray analysis

Meher Parveen, Md Kamrul Hasan, Junko Takahashi, Yoshinori Murata, Emiko Kitagawa, Osamu Kodama, Hitoshi Iwahashi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Citations (Scopus)


Plant-derived essential oils with monoterpenoids have been used as antifungal drugs since ancient times, but the mode of action of these natural hydrocarbons at the molecular level is not understood. In order to understand the mechanisms of toxicity of α-terpinene (a cyclic monoterpene), a culture of Saccharomyces cerevisiae was exposed to 0.02% α-terpinene for 2 h and transcript profiles were obtained using yeast DNA arrays. These profiles, when compared with transcript profiles of untreated cultures, revealed that the expression of 793 genes was affected. For 435 genes, mRNA levels in treated cells compared with control cells differed by more than two-fold, whereas for 358 genes, it was <0.5-fold. Northern blots were performed for selected genes to verify the microarray results. Functional analysis of the up-regulated genes indicates that, similar to commonly used antifungal drugs, α -terpinene exposure affected genes involved in ergosterol biosynthesis and sterol uptake. In addition, transcriptional induction of genes related to lipid metabolism, cell wall structure and function, detoxification and cellular transport was observed in response to terpinene toxicity. Notably, thefunctions of 192 up-regulated genes arestill unknown, but their characterization will probably shed light on the mechanisms of drug resistance and sensitivity. Taken together, this study showed that α-terpinene has strong antifungal activities and its modes of action resemble those of presently used antifungal drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-55
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Jul
Externally publishedYes


  • Ergosterol
  • Essential oils
  • Genomic expression
  • Stress response
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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