Uptake and Assimilation of Hydrophobic Substrates by the Oleaginous Yeast Yarrowia lipolytica
The transport of hydrophobic substrates such as fatty acids, triglycerides, and alkanes into a microbial cell has recently begun to receive interest by the scientific community, especially due to the potential biotechnological applications. Here we present an overview on how this process is likely to proceed in the oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica, an organism which is known to inhabit various lipid containing environments. It is, therefore, well adapted to utilizing these hydrophobic substrates, a process involving firstly their transport into the cells followed by their entry into the subsequent metabolic pathways. Among the strategies employed by Yarrowia in response to exposure to hydrophobic substances are surface-mediated and direct interfacial transport processes, production of biosurfactants, hydrophobisation of the cytoplasmic membrane and the formation of protrusions. Several transport systems have been found to be essential for the growth on hydrophobic compounds, these being either involved in importing the hydrophobic substrate, or in exporting cellular intermediates in order to maintain intracellular concentrations of such compounds at non-toxic levels. Finally, this review also discusses recent advances on the metabolic fate of hydrophobic compounds inside the cell: their terminal oxidation, further degradation or accumulation in the form of intracellular lipid bodies.
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