Organic solvents are toxic to living cells. In eukaryotes, cells with organic solvent tolerance have only been found in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Although several factors contributing to organic solvent tolerance have been identified in previous studies, the mechanism of how yeast cells naturally respond to organic solvent stress is not known. We demonstrated that the pleiotropic drug resistance (PDR) pathway contributed to response to organic solvent stress. Activation of the PDR pathway by mutations in the transcription factors Pdr1p and Pdr3p led to organic solvent tolerance. Exposure to organic solvents also induced transcription levels of PDR5, which encodes a major drug efflux pump. Overproduction of Pdr5p improved organic solvent tolerance, presumably by exporting organic solvents out of the cell. In addition, we showed that the cell wall integrity (CWI) pathway was induced in response to organic solvents to upregulate genes encoding the cell wall-related proteins Wsc3p and Ynl190wp. WSC3 and YNL190W were upregulated independently of the PDR pathway. Among the components of the CWI pathway, the cell surface sensors (Wsc3p and Mid2p) and the transcription factors (Swi4p and Swi6p) appeared to be particularly involved in the response to organic solvents. Our findings indicate that S. cerevisiae activates two different signaling pathways, the PDR pathway and the CWI pathway, to cope with stresses from organic solvents.
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