A screen for genes of heme uptake identifies the FLC family required for import of FAD into the endoplasmic reticulum.
Although Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae express very similar systems of iron uptake, these species differ in their capacity to use heme as a nutritional iron source. Whereas C. albicans efficiently takes up heme, S. cerevisiae grows poorly on media containing heme as the sole source of iron. We identified a gene from C. albicans that would enhance heme uptake when expressed in S. cerevisiae. Overexpression of CaFLC1 (for flavin carrier 1) stimulated the growth of S. cerevisiae on media containing heme iron. In C. albicans, deletion of both alleles of CaFLC1 resulted in a decrease in heme uptake activity, whereas overexpression of CaFLC1 resulted in an increase in heme uptake. The S. cerevisiae genome contains three genes with homology to CaFLC1, and two of these, termed FLC1 and FLC2, also stimulated growth on heme when overexpressed in S. cerevisiae. The S. cerevisiae Flc proteins were detected in the endoplasmic reticulum and the FLC genes encoded an essential function, as strains deleted for either FLC1 or FLC2 were viable, but deletion of both FLC1 and FLC2 was synthetically lethal. FLC gene deletion resulted in pleiotropic phenotypes related to defects in cell wall integrity. High copy suppressors of this synthetic lethality included three mannosyltransferases, VAN1, KTR4, and HOC1. FLC deletion strains exhibited loss of cell wall mannose phosphates, defects in cell wall assembly, and delayed maturation of carboxypeptidase Y. Permeabilized cells lacking FLC proteins exhibited dramatic loss of FAD import activity. We propose that the FLC genes are required for import of FAD into the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum, where it is required for disulfide bond formation.