The development of bactericidal yeast strains by expressing the Pediococcus acidilactici pediocin gene (pedA) in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Heidi Schoeman, Melané A. Vivier, Maret Du Toit, Leon M T Dicks, Isak S. Pretorius*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


The excessive use of sulphur dioxide and other chemical preservatives in wine, beer and other fermented food and beverage products to prevent the growth of unwanted microbes holds various disadvantages for the quality of the end-products and is confronted by mounting consumer resistance. The objective of this study was to investigate the feasibility of controlling spoilage bacteria during yeast-based fermentations by engineering bactericidal strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. To test this novel concept, we have successfully expressed a bacteriocin gene in yeast. The pediocin operon of Pediococcus acidilactici PAC1.0 consists of four clustered genes, namely pedA (encoding a 62 amino acid precursor of the PA-1 pediocin), pedB (encoding an immunity factor), pedC (encoding a PA-1 transport protein) and pedC(D (encoding a protein involved in the transport and processing of PA-1). The pedA gene was inserted into a yeast expression/secretion cassette and introduced as a multicopy episomal plasmid into a laboratory strain (Y294) of S. cerevisiae. Northern blot analysis confirmed that the pedA structural gene in this construct (ADH1(p)-MFa1(s)-pedA-ADH1(T), designated PED1), was efficiently expressed under the control of the yeast alcohol dehydrogenase I gene promoter (ADH1(P)) and terminator (ADH1(T)). Secretion of the PED1-encoded pediocin PA-1 was directed by the yeast mating pheromone α-factor's secretion signal (MFa1(S)). The presence of biologically active antimicrobial peptides produced by the yeast transformants was indicated by agar diffusion assays against sensitive indicator bacteria (e.g. Listeria monocytogenes B73). Protein analysis indicated the secreted heterologous peptide to be approximately 4.6 kDa, which conforms to the expected size. The heterologous peptide was present at relatively low levels in the yeast supernatant but pediocin activity was readily detected when intact yeast colonies were used in sensitive strain overlays. This study could lead to the development of bactericidal yeast strains where S. cerevisiae starter cultures not only conduct the fermentations in the wine, brewing and baking industries but also act as biological control agents to inhibit the growth of spoilage bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)647-656
Number of pages10
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 1999
Externally publishedYes


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