The Yeast Also Rises: Yeast Libraries Reshaping Biology Research

The sequencing of the Saccharomyces Cerviciae (yeast) genome in the mid-1990s revolutionized genetics, allowing researchers to use deletion mutants to study regulation of eukaryotic cells.  The primary techniques up until now have included yeast two-hybrid arrays for studying protein-protein interactions and tetrad dissection for mutation analysis.

The advent of high-throughput genomics to analyze cytotoxicity, programmed cell death, drug target screens, and other disease pathways has revolutionized traditional yeast experimentation methods.  Specimen are now arrayed in libraries, ranging from mid-size collections targeting certain proteins or gene families, to large whole-genome arrays such as the synthetic genetic array to study thousands of genes simultaneously.  Gene knockouts of up to 6,000 genetic mutants can be purchased for study.

Because of their expanded availability and whole-scale approach at a relatively inexpensive cost, genetic yeast libraries and knockouts have become vessels of drug discovery and cell biology across disciplines and areas of study.  Microarray genetic screens have been used to study everything from aging factors, a “Green Screen” cytotoxicity array for various toxic compounds, the regulation of various oncogenes, and even the genetic yeast factors in the development of sauvignon blanc wines!

Because yeast libraries have expanded from small batches for protein experimentation and genetic knockouts to arrays of thousands of genes, it has incurred several challenges to library management.  The biggest of these is classification, nomenclature and cataloging. Most yeast cDNA expression libraries run in the several thousand dollar range from major specimen providers.  Additionally, facilities such as the Y2H screening facility at Indiana University that have set up large-scale Y2H analysis for labs not adept at yeast manipulation and biology still return all samples and do not provide long-term storage.  As such, labs must apportion proper space for storing yeast libraries, and protocols for avoiding cross-contamination issues, especially if the lab is also conducting experiments with cell and bacterial cultures and if multiple researchers within the group will be handling the same library.  Along these lines, using a proper specimen collection tool will facilitate knowing where in the lab the libraries are stored (if they dictate special individual storage), proper labeling of individual wells (which can number in the thousands) or any subcollections thereof, and catalogues of gene names for quick analysis and cross-reference of screening experiments.