Jorgelindo da Veiga Moreira1, Mario Jolicoeur1, Laurent Schwartz4 & Sabine Peres2,3*

1 Research Laboratory in Applied Metabolic Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering, Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal, Centre‑Ville Station, P.O. Box 6079, Montréal, QC, Canada.
2 LRI, Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, 91405 Orsay, France. *email:
3 MaIAGE, INRAE, Université Paris-Saclay, 78350 Jouy‑en‑Josas, France.
4 Assistance Publique des Hôpitaux de Paris, 149 avenue Victoria, 75004 Paris, France.



Yarrowia lipolytica is a non-conventional yeast with promising industrial potentials for lipids and citrate production. It is also widely used for studying mitochondrial respiration due to a respiratory chain like those of mammalian cells. In this study we used a genome-scale model (GEM) of Y. lipolytica metabolism and performed a dynamic Flux Balance Analysis (dFBA) algorithm to analyze and identify metabolic levers associated with citrate optimization. Analysis of fluxes at stationary growth phase showed that carbon flux derived from glucose is rewired to citric acid production and lipid accumulation, whereas the oxidative phosphorylation (OxPhos) shifted to the alternative respiration mode through alternative oxidase (AOX) protein. Simulations of optimized citrate secretion flux resulted in a pronounced lipid oxidation along with reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and AOX flux inhibition. Then, we experimentally challenged AOX inhibition by adding n-Propyl Gallate (nPG), a specific AOX inhibitor, on Y. lipolytica batch cultures at stationary phase. Our results showed a twofold overproduction of citrate (20.5 g/L) when nPG is added compared to 10.9 g/L under control condition (no nPG addition). These results suggest that ROS management, especially through AOX activity, has a pivotal role on citrate/lipid flux balance in Y. lipolytica. All taken together, we thus provide for the first time, a key for the understanding of a predominant metabolic mechanism favoring citrate overproduction in Y. lipolytica at the expense of lipids accumulation.
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