Heterologous aquaporin (AQY2-1) expression strongly enhances freeze tolerance of Schizosaccharomyces pombe

An Tanghe, Gerald Kayingo, Bernard A. Prior, Johan M. Thevelein, Patrick Van Dijck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Aquaporin membrane proteins enable the transport of water across membranes in various organisms. In yeast their expression has been shown to correlate strongly with freeze tolerance. When we analyzed the freeze tolerance of Schizosaccharomyces pombe, an organism whose genome sequence has revealed no genes encoding a bona fide water channel, we found very low intrinsic freeze tolerance compared to other yeast species with aquaporin-encoding genes. Deletion of Spac977.17, which encodes a putative glycerol facilitator, resulted in no significant differences in freeze tolerance with its corresponding wild-type strain in all growth conditions tested. However, when we expressed the Saccharomyces cerevisiae aquaporin-encoding gene AQY2-1 in S. pombe cells, we found that the relatively low freeze tolerance of S. pombe could be significantly enhanced. Therefore, (i) the absence of a bona fide water channel in S. pombe might provide in part an explanation for its overall low freeze tolerance compared to other yeast species, and (ii) aquaporin overexpression might be a tool to improve cryopreservation of many other cell types as well, as has recently been shown for mouse oocytes and fish embryos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-56
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Aquaporin
  • Cryopreservation
  • Freeze tolerance
  • Major intrinsic protein
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology


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