Activity of plasma membrane H+-ATPase and expression of PMA1 and PMA2 genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells grown at optimal and low pH.
Cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae grown in media with an initial pH of 2.5-6.0, acidified with a strong acid (HCl), exhibited the highest plasma membrane H+-ATPase-specific activity at an initial pH of 6.0. At a lower pH (above pH 2.5) ATPase activity (62-83% of the maximum level) still allowed optimal growth. At pH 2.5, ATPase activity was about 30% of the maximum value and growth was impaired. Quantitative immunoassays showed that the content of ATPase protein in the plasma membrane was similar across the entire pH range tested, although slightly lower at pH 2.5. The decrease of plasma membrane ATPase activity in cells grown at low pH was partially accounted for by its in vitro stability, which decreased sharply at pH below 5.5, although the reduction of activity was far below the values expected from in vitro measurements. Yeast growth under acid stress changed the pattern of gene expression observed at optimal pH. The level of mRNA from the essential plasma-membrane-ATPase-encoding gene PMA1 was reduced by 50% in cells grown at pH 2.5 as compared with cells grown at the optimal pH 5.0, although the content of ATPase in the plasma membrane was only modestly reduced. As observed in response to other kinds of stress, the PMA2 promoter at the optimal pH was up to eightfold more efficient in cells grown at pH 2.5, although it remained several hundred times less efficient than that of the PMA1 gene.