DNA Microarrays are regarded as a valuable tool for basic and applied research in microbiology. However, for many industrially important microorganisms the lack of commercially available microarrays still hampers physiological research. Exemplarily, our understanding of protein folding and secretion in the yeast Pichia pastoris is presently widely dependent on conclusions drawn from analogies to Saccharomyces cerevisiae. To close this gap for a yeast species employed for its high capacity to produce heterologous proteins, we developed full genome DNA microarrays for P. pastoris and analyzed the unfolded protein response (UPR) in this yeast species, as compared to S. cerevisiae.
By combining the partially annotated gene list of P. pastoris with de novo gene finding a list of putative open reading frames was generated for which an oligonucleotide probe set was designed using the probe design tool TherMODO (a thermodynamic model-based oligoset design optimizer). To evaluate the performance of the novel array design, microarrays carrying the oligo set were hybridized with samples from treatments with dithiothreitol (DTT) or a strain overexpressing the UPR transcription factor HAC1, both compared with a wild type strain in normal medium as untreated control. DTT treatment was compared with literature data for S. cerevisiae, and revealed similarities, but also important differences between the two yeast species. Overexpression of HAC1, the most direct control for UPR genes, resulted in significant new understanding of this important regulatory pathway in P. pastoris, and generally in yeasts.
The differences observed between P. pastoris and S. cerevisiae underline the importance of DNA microarrays for industrial production strains. P. pastoris reacts to DTT treatment mainly by the regulation of genes related to chemical stimulus, electron transport and respiration, while the overexpression of HAC1 induced many genes involved in translation,