L-Proline (pyrrolidine-2-carboxylic acid) is a distinctive metabolite both biochemically and biotechnologically and is currently recognized to have a cardinal role in gene expression and cellular signaling pathways in stress response. Proline-fueled mitochondrial metabolism involves the oxidative conversion of L-Proline to L-Glutamate in two enzymatic steps by means of Put1p and Put2p that help Saccharomyces cerevisiae to respond to changes in the nutritional environment by initiating the breakdown of L-Proline as a source for nitrogen, carbon, and energy. Compartmentalization of L-Proline catabolic pathway implies that extensive L-Proline transport must take place between the cytosol where its biogenesis via Pro1p, Pro2p, Pro3p occurs and mitochondria. L-Proline uptake in S. cerevisiae purified and active mitochondria was investigated by swelling experiments, oxygen uptake and fluorimetric measurement of a membrane potential generation (DW). Our results strongly suggest that L-Proline uptake occurs via a carried-mediated process as demonstrated by saturation kinetics and experiments with N-ethylmaleimide, a pharmacological compound that is a cysteine-modifying reagent in hydrophobic protein domains and that inhibited mitochondrial transport. Plasticity of S. cerevisiae cell biochemistry according to background fluctuations is an important factor of adaptation to stress. Thus L-Proline -> Glutamate route feeds Krebs cycle providing energy and anaplerotic carbon for yeast survival.
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