Antimicrobial properties and death-inducing mechanisms of saccharomycin, a biocide secreted by Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Patrícia Branco, Diana Francisco, Margarida Monteiro, Maria Gabriela Almeida, Jorge Caldeira, Nils Arneborg, Catarina Prista, Helena Albergaria

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40 Citations (Scopus)


We recently found that Saccharomyces cerevisiae (strain CCMI 885) secretes antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) derived from the glycolytic enzyme glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) that are active against various wine-related yeast and bacteria. Here, we show that several other S. cerevisiae strains also secrete natural biocide fractions during alcoholic fermentation, although at different levels, which correlates with the antagonistic effect exerted against non-Saccharomyces yeasts. We, therefore, term this biocide saccharomycin. The native AMPs were purified by gel-filtration chromatography and its antimicrobial activity was compared to that exhibited by chemically synthesized analogues (AMP1 and AMP2/3). Results show that the antimicrobial activity of the native AMPs is significantly higher than that of the synthetic analogues (AMP1 and AMP2/3), but a conjugated action of the two synthetic peptides is observed. Moreover, while the natural AMPs are active at pH 3.5, the synthetic peptides are not, since they are anionic and cannot dissolve at this acidic pH. These findings suggest that the molecular structure of the native biocide probably involves the formation of aggregates of several peptides that render them soluble under acidic conditions. The death mechanisms induced by the AMPs were also evaluated by means of epifluorescence microscopy-based methods. Sensitive yeast cells treated with the synthetic AMPs show cell membrane disruption, apoptotic molecular markers, and internalization of the AMPs. In conclusion, our work shows that saccharomycin is a natural biocide secreted by S. cerevisiae whose activity depends on the conjugated action of GAPDH-derived peptides. This study also reveals that S. cerevisiae secretes GAPDH-derived peptides as a strategy to combat other microbial species during alcoholic fermentations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-171
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Antimicrobial peptides
  • Apoptosis/necrosis
  • Cell-penetrating peptides
  • Glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase
  • Non-Saccharomyces yeasts
  • Wine fermentation


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