Maltotriose utilization by Saccharomyces cerevisiae and closely related yeasts is important to industrial processes based on starch hydrolysates, where the trisaccharide is present in significant concentrations and often is not completely consumed. We undertook an integrated study to better understand maltotriose metabolism in a mixture with glucose and maltose. Physiological data obtained for a particularly fast-growing distiller's strain (PYCC 5297) showed that, in contrast to what has been previously reported for other strains, maltotriose is essentially fermented. The respiratory quotient was, however, considerably higher for maltotriose (0.36) than for maltose (0.16) or glucose (0.11). To assess the role of transport in the sequential utilization of maltose and maltotriose, we investigated the presence of genes involved in maltotriose uptake in the type strain of Saccharomyces carlsbergensis (PYCC 4457). To this end, a previously constructed genomic library was used to identify maltotriose transporter genes by functional complementation of a strain devoid of known maltose transporters. One gene, clearly belonging to the MAL transporter family, was repeatedly isolated from the library. Sequence comparison showed that the novel gene (designated MTY1) shares 90% and 54% identity with MAL31 and AGT1, respectively. However, expression of Mty1p restores growth of the S. cerevisiae receptor strain on both maltose and maltotriose, whereas the closely related Mal31p supports growth on maltose only and Agt1p supports growth on a wider range of substrates, including maltose and maltotriose. Interestingly, Mty1p displays higher affinity for maltotriose than for maltose, a new feature among all the α-glucoside transporters described so far.
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