Molecular insight into arsenic toxicity via the genome-wide deletion mutant screening of Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Adam J. Johnson, Filip Veljanoski, Patrick J. O'Doherty, Mohammad S. Zaman, Gayani Petersingham, Trevor D. Bailey, Gerald Münch, Cindy Kersaitis, Ming J. Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Arsenic is omnipresent in soil, air, food and water. Chronic exposure to arsenic is a serious problem to human health. In-depth understanding of this metalloid's toxicity is a fundamental step towards development of arsenic-free foods and measures for bioremediation. By screening the complete set of gene deletion mutants (4873) of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, this study uncovered 75 sensitive and 39 resistant mutants against arsenite [As(iii)]. Functional analysis of the corresponding genes revealed the molecular details for its uptake, toxicity and detoxification. On the basis of the hypersensitivity of yap3Δ, the transcription factor, Yap3p, is for the first time linked to the cell's detoxification against As(iii). Apart from confirming the previously described role of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) Hog1 pathway in combating arsenic toxicity, the results show that the regulatory subunits (Ckb1p and Ckb2p) of protein kinase CK2 are also involved in the process, suggesting possible crosstalk between the two key protein kinases. The sensitivity to As(iii) conferred by deletion of the genes involved in protein degradation and chromatin remodelling demonstrates protein damage is the key mode of toxicity for the metalloid. Furthermore, the resistant phenotype of fps1Δ, snf3Δ and pho81Δ against As(iii) links arsenic uptake with the corresponding plasma membrane-bound transporters-aquaglyceroporin (Fps1p), hexose (Snf3p) and phosphate transporters. The molecular details obtained in this screen for As(iii) uptake, detoxification and toxicity provide the basis for future investigations into arsenic-related problems in the environment, agriculture and human health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-235
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


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