1. Chromosomes and Gene Expression
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Molecular Communication: An acid tale of prion formation

  1. Mick F Tuite  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of Kent, United Kingdom
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Cite this article as: eLife 2016;5:e22256 doi: 10.7554/eLife.22256
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Certain bacteria communicate with yeast cells via lactic acid.

L-malic acid (C4H6O5) is a natural component of grapes and other soft fruits, and it is decarboxylated by certain bacteria (red) during malolactic fermentation to produce L-lactic acid (C3H6O3) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The L-lactic acid can then induce the formation of the [GAR+] prion from the [gar-] protein in yeast cells (yellow). Cells carrying this prion (dark yellow) produce less ethanol from the fermentation of sugars, which in turn provides an environment in which the bacteria can flourish. Winemakers try to promote the production of ethanol and reduce levels of malic acid.

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