Apoptosis as a form of programmed cell death (PCD) in multicellular organisms is a well-established genetically controlled process that leads to elimination of unnecessary or damaged cells. Recently, PCD has also been described for unicellular organisms as a process for the socially advantageous regulation of cell survival. The human Bcl-2 family member Bak induces apoptosis in mammalian cells which is counteracted by the Bcl-x(L) protein. We show that Bak also kills the unicellular fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe and that this is inhibited by coexpression of human Bcl-x(L). Moreover, the same critical BH3 domain of Bak that is required for induction of apoptosis in mammalian cells is also required for inducing death in yeast. This suggests that Bak kills mammalian and yeast cells by similar mechanisms. The phenotype of the Bak-induced death in yeast involves condensation and fragmentation of the chromatin as well as dissolution of the nuclear envelope, all of which are features of mammalian apoptosis. These data suggest that the evolutionarily conserved metazoan PCD pathway is also present in unicellular yeast.
Mammalian apoptosis and yeast programmed cell death (PCD) share a variety of features including reactive oxygen species production, protease activity and a major role played by mitochondria. In view of this, and of the distinctive characteristics differentiating yeast and multicellular organism PCD, the mitochondrial contribution to cell death in the genetically tractable yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been intensively investigated. In this mini-review we report whether and how yeast mitochondrial function and proteins belonging to oxidative phosphorylation, protein trafficking into and out of mitochondria, and mitochondrial dynamics, play a role in PCD. Since in PCD many processes take place over time, emphasis will be placed on an experimental model based on acetic acid-induced PCD (AA-PCD) which has the unique feature of having been investigated as a function of time. As will be described there are at least two AA-PCD pathways each with a multifaceted role played by mitochondrial components, in particular by cytochrome c.
yeast; programmed cell death; mitochondria; acetic acid; cytochrome c; protein trafficking; intracellular signaling
The notion that cellular membranes contain distinct microdomains, acting as scaffolds for signal transduction processes, has gained considerable momentum. In particular, a class of such domains that is rich in sphingolipids and cholesterol, termed as lipid rafts, is thought to compartmentalize the plasma membrane, and to have important roles in survival and cell death signaling in mammalian cells. Likewise, yeast lipid rafts are membrane domains enriched in sphingolipids and ergosterol, the yeast counterpart of mammalian cholesterol. Sterol-rich membrane domains have been identified in several fungal species, including the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe as well as the pathogens Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans. Yeast rafts have been mainly involved in membrane trafficking, but increasing evidence implicates rafts in a wide range of additional cellular processes. Yeast lipid rafts house biologically important proteins involved in the proper function of yeast, such as proteins that control Na+, K+, and pH homeostasis, which influence many cellular processes, including cell growth and death. Membrane raft constituents affect drug susceptibility, and drugs interacting with sterols alter raft composition and membrane integrity, leading to yeast cell death. Because of the genetic tractability of yeast, analysis of yeast rafts could be an excellent model to approach unanswered questions of mammalian raft biology, and to understand the role of lipid rafts in the regulation of cell death and survival in human cells. A better insight in raft biology might lead to envisage new raft-mediated approaches to the treatment of human diseases where regulation of cell death and survival is critical, such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
lipid rafts; membrane domains; ergosterol; yeast; S. cerevisiae; ion homeostasis; nutrient transporters; cell death
Telomeres, the natural ends of linear chromosomes, must be protected and completely replicated to guarantee genomic stability in eukaryotic cells. However, the protected state of telomeres is not compatible with recruitment of telomerase, an enzyme responsible for extending telomeric G-rich repeats during S-phase; thus, telomeres must undergo switches from a protected state to an accessible state during the cell cycle. In this minireview, we will summarize recent advances in our understanding of proteins involved in the protection and replication of telomeres, and the way these factors are dynamically recruited to telomeres during the cell cycle. We will focus mainly on recent results from fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, and compare them with results from budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and mammalian cell studies. In addition, a model for the way in which fission yeast cells replicate telomeres will be presented.
telomere; telomerase; DNA replication; checkpoint; DNA repair
Enrichment procedures, such as those utilizing inositol-less death, have proven to be extremely powerful for increasing the efficiency of identification of spontaneous mutants in a variety of procaryotic and eucaryotic organisms. We characterized inositol-less death in several widely used strains of the inositol-requiring yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe and determined conditions under which this phenomenon can be used to enrich for mutants. Conflicting reports in the literature on the effects of inositol starvation upon viability of S. pombe had cast doubt on the suitability of using inositol-less death in a mutant enrichment procedure for this organism. We determined that inositol-less death was strain dependent, with differences in viability of up to 5 orders of magnitude observed between the most-sensitive strain, 972, and the least-sensitive strain, SP837. Inositol-less death was also dependent upon the cell concentration at the time of initiation of starvation. While inositol-less death occurred at all four temperatures tested, the kinetics of death was slower at 16 degrees C than at 23, 30, or 37 degrees C. Inositol-less death was observed during growth in fermentable and nonfermentable carbon sources, although loss of viability in glycerol-ethanol was significantly slower than that in glucose, sucrose, or raffinose. The feasibility of exploiting inositol-less death to enrich for spontaneous mutants was demonstrated by the identification of amino acid auxotrophs, nucleotide auxotrophs, carbon source utilization mutants, and temperature-sensitive mutants. By varying starvation conditions, some mutants were recovered at frequencies as high as 5.7 x 10(-2), orders of magnitude higher than the spontaneous mutation rate.
Inositol is a precursor of numerous phospholipids and signalling molecules essential for the cell. Schizosaccharomyces pombe is naturally auxotroph for inositol as its genome does not have a homologue of the INO1 gene encoding inositol-1-phosphate synthase, the enzyme responsible for inositol biosynthesis. In this work, we demonstrate that inositol starvation in S. pombe causes cell death with apoptotic features. This apoptotic death is dependent on the metacaspase Pca1p and is affected by the UPR transducer Ire1p. Previously, we demonstrated that calnexin is involved in apoptosis induced by ER stress. Here, we show that cells expressing a lumenal version of calnexin exhibit a 2-fold increase in the levels of apoptosis provoked by inositol starvation. This increase is reversed by co-expression of a calnexin mutant spanning the transmembrane domain and C-terminal cytosolic tail. Coherently, calnexin is physiologically cleaved at the end of its lumenal domain, under normal growth conditions when cells approach stationary phase. This cleavage suggests that the two naturally produced calnexin fragments are needed to continue growth into stationary phase and to prevent cell death. Collectively, our observations indicate that calnexin takes part in at least two apoptotic pathways in S. pombe, and suggest that the cleavage of calnexin has regulatory roles in apoptotic processes involving calnexin.
Transcriptional silencing is a heritable form of gene inactivation that involves the assembly of large regions of DNA into a specialized chromatin structure that inhibits transcription. This phenomenon is responsible for inhibiting transcription at silent mating-type loci, telomeres and rDNA repeats in both budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, as well as at centromeres in fission yeast. Although transcriptional silencing in both S.cerevisiae and S.pombe involves modification of chromatin, no apparent amino acid sequence similarities have been reported between the proteins involved in establishment and maintenance of silent chromatin in these two distantly related yeasts. Silencing in S.cerevisiae is mediated by Sir2p-containing complexes, whereas silencing in S.pombe is mediated primarily by Swi6-containing complexes. The Swi6 complexes of S.pombe contain proteins closely related to their counterparts in higher eukaryotes, but have no apparent orthologs in S.cerevisiae. Silencing proteins from both yeasts are also actively involved in other chromosome-related nuclear functions, including DNA repair and the regulation of chromatin structure.
Phospholipid metabolism in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe was examined. Three enzymes of phospholipid biosynthesis, cytidine diphosphate diacylglycerol synthase (CDP-DG), phosphatidylinositol (PI) synthase, and phosphatidylserine (PS) synthase, were characterized in extracts of S. pombe cells. Contrary to an earlier report, we were able to demonstrate that CDP-DG served as a precursor for PI and PS biosynthesis in S. pombe. S. pombe is naturally auxotrophic for the phospholipid precursor inositol. We found that S. pombe was much more resistant to loss of viability during inositol starvation than artificially generated inositol auxotrophs of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The phospholipid composition of S. pombe cells grown in inositol-rich medium (50 microM) was similar to that of S. cerevisiae cells grown under similar conditions. However, growth of S. pombe at low inositol concentrations (below 30 microM) affected the ratio of the anionic phospholipids PI and PS, while the relative proportions of other glycerophospholipids remained unchanged. During inositol starvation, the rate of PI synthesis decreased rapidly, and there was a concomitant increase in the rate of PS synthesis. Phosphatidic acid and CDP-DG, which are precursors to these phospholipids, also increased when PI synthesis was blocked by lack of exogenous inositol. The major product of turnover of inositol-containing phospholipids in S. pombe was found to be free inositol, which accumulated in the medium and could be reused by the cell.
Programmed cell death (PCD) is an essential cellular mechanism that is evolutionary conserved, mediated through various pathways and acts by integrating different stimuli. Many diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases and cancers are found to be caused by, or associated with, regulations in the cell death pathways. Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is a unicellular eukaryotic organism that shares with human cells components and pathways of the PCD and is therefore used as a model organism. Boolean modeling is becoming promising approach to capture qualitative behavior and describe essential properties of such complex networks. Here we present large literature-based and to our knowledge first Boolean model that combines pathways leading to apoptosis (a type of PCD) in yeast. Analysis of the yeast model confirmed experimental findings of anti-apoptotic role of Bir1p and pro-apoptotic role of Stm1p and revealed activation of the stress protein kinase Hog proposing the maximal level of activation upon heat stress. In addition we extended the yeast model and created an in silico humanized yeast in which human pro- and anti-apoptotic regulators Bcl-2 family and Valosin-contain protein (VCP) are included in the model. We showed that accumulation of Bax in silico humanized yeast shows apoptotic markers and that VCP is essential target of Akt Signaling. The presented Boolean model provides comprehensive description of yeast apoptosis network behavior. Extended model of humanized yeast gives new insights of how complex human disease like neurodegeneration can initially be tested.
apoptosis; Boolean modeling; Stm1; Bir1; Hog1; VCP; Bcl-2 family
Previous studies have indicated that replication stress can trigger apoptosis-like cell death, accompanied (where tested) by production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), in mammalian cells and budding yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). In mammalian cells, inappropriate entry into mitosis also leads to cell death. Here we report similar responses in fission yeast (Schizosaccharomyces pombe). We used ROS- and death-specific fluorescent stains to measure the effects of mutations in replication initiation and checkpoint genes in fission yeast on the frequencies of ROS production and cell death. We found that certain mutant alleles of each of the four tested replication initiation genes caused elevated ROS and cell death. Where tested, these effects were not enhanced by checkpoint gene mutations. Instead, when cells that were competent for replication but defective in both the replication and damage checkpoints were treated with hydroxyurea, which slows replication fork movement, the frequencies of ROS production and cell death were greatly increased. This was a consequence of elevated CDK activity, which permitted inappropriate entry into mitosis. Thus studies in fission yeast are likely to prove helpful in understanding the pathways that lead both from replication stress and from inappropriate mitosis to cell death in mammalian cells.
reactive oxygen species; cell death; checkpoint; replication; mitosis; apoptosis
We describe a highly efficient alkali cation method and library transducing vectors for cloning mammalian cDNAs by trans-complementation of fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe mutants. cDNA libraries constructed with the pcD or pcD2 vector are transduced into yeast by cotransfection with a linearized vector, which allows an enhanced homologous recombination between the yeast vector and the library plasmid leading to the efficient formation of concatemers containing pcD molecules. The transformation frequencies obtained by the method are 10(6) colonies per 10(8) cells transfected with 2 micrograms of library and 1 microgram of vector, 50-60% of which contain pcD molecules. The high-efficiency alkali cation method circumvents many of the shortcomings of the spheroplast method generally used for Schiz. pombe transfection. The vectors are maximized for the efficiency of library transduction and minimized for the rearrangements of pcD molecules during propagation in yeast. This system allows rapid screening of multi-million cDNA clone libraries for rare cDNAs in a routine scale of experiments. Using this system, various mammalian cDNAs that are extremely difficult, time-consuming, or unclonable to clone by other methods have been cloned.
Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress can trigger apoptosis and necrosis in many types of mammalian cells. Previous studies in yeast found little or no cell death in response to the ER stressor tunicamycin, but a recent study suggested widespread apoptosis-like death. Here we show that wild-type laboratory Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells responding to tunicamycin die by nonapoptotic mechanisms in low-osmolyte culture media and survive for long periods of time in standard synthetic media. Survival requires calcineurin, a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein phosphatase, but none of its known targets. The Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase Cmk2 was identified as an indirect target of calcineurin that suppresses death of calcineurin-deficient cells. Death of Cmk2- and/or calcineurin-deficient S. cerevisiae cells was preceded by accumulation of reactive oxygen species but was not associated with hallmarks of apoptosis and was not dependent on Mca1, Aif1, Nuc1, or other factors implicated in apoptosis-like death. Cmk2 and calcineurin also independently suppressed the death of S. cerevisiae cells responding to dithiothreitol or miconazole, a common azole-class antifungal drug. Though inhibitors of Hsp90 have been shown to diminish calcineurin signaling in S. cerevisiae and to synergistically inhibit growth in combination with azoles, they did not stimulate death of S. cerevisiae cells in combination with miconazole or tunicamycin, and instead they prevented the death of calcineurin- and Cmk2-deficient cells. These findings reveal a novel prodeath role for Hsp90 and antideath roles for calcineurin and Cmk2 that extend the life span of S. cerevisiae cells responding to both natural and clinical antifungal compounds.
This review gives an overview of different yeast strains and enzyme classes involved in yeast whole-cell biotransformations. A focus was put on the synthesis of compounds for fine chemical and API (= active pharmaceutical ingredient) production employing single or only few-step enzymatic reactions. Accounting for recent success stories in metabolic engineering, the construction and use of synthetic pathways was also highlighted. Examples from academia and industry and advances in the field of designed yeast strain construction demonstrate the broad significance of yeast whole-cell applications. In addition to Saccharomyces cerevisiae, alternative yeast whole-cell biocatalysts are discussed such as Candida sp., Cryptococcus sp., Geotrichum sp., Issatchenkia sp., Kloeckera sp., Kluyveromyces sp., Pichia sp. (including Hansenula polymorpha = P. angusta), Rhodotorula sp., Rhodosporidium sp., alternative Saccharomyces sp., Schizosaccharomyces pombe, Torulopsis sp., Trichosporon sp., Trigonopsis variabilis, Yarrowia lipolytica and Zygosaccharomyces rouxii.
Glucosidase II (GII) plays a key role in glycoprotein biogenesis in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). It is responsible for the sequential removal of the two innermost glucose residues from the glycan (Glc3Man9GlcNAc2) transferred to Asn residues in proteins. GII participates in the calnexin/calreticulin cycle; it removes the single glucose unit added to folding intermediates and misfolded glycoproteins by the UDP-Glc:glycoprotein glucosyltransferase. GII is a heterodimer whose α subunit (GIIα) bears the glycosyl hydrolase active site, whereas its β subunit (GIIβ) role is controversial and has been reported to be involved in GIIα ER retention and folding. Here, we report that in the absence of GIIβ, the catalytic subunit GIIα of the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe (an organism displaying a glycoprotein folding quality control mechanism similar to that occurring in mammalian cells) folds to an active conformation able to hydrolyze p-nitrophenyl α-d-glucopyranoside. However, the heterodimer is required to efficiently deglucosylate the physiological substrates Glc2Man9GlcNAc2 (G2M9) and Glc1Man9GlcNAc2 (G1M9). The interaction of the mannose 6-phosphate receptor homologous domain present in GIIβ and mannoses in the B and/or C arms of the glycans mediates glycan hydrolysis enhancement. We present evidence that also in mammalian cells GIIβ modulates G2M9 and G1M9 trimming.
Although autophagy is characteristic of type II programmed cell death (PCD), its role in cell death is currently debated. Both cell death-promoting and prosurvival roles of autophagy have been reported depending on the organism and the cell type. In filamentous fungi, a cell death reaction known as an incompatibility reaction occurs when cells of unlike genotype fuse. Cell death by incompatibility is characterized by a dramatic vacuolar enlargement and cell lysis. In Podospora anserina, autophagy is induced early during this cell death reaction. Cell death by incompatibility in Podospora is a model of type II PCD used here to assess the role of autophagy in this type of cell death. We have inactivated PaATG1, the Podospora ortholog of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae ATG1 gene involved in the early steps of autophagy in yeast. The ΔPaATG1 mutant displays developmental defects characteristic of abrogated autophagy in Podospora. Using the green fluorescent protein-PaATG8 autophagosome marker, we show that autophagy is abolished in this mutant. Neither cell death by incompatibility nor vacuolization are suppressed in ΔPaATG1 and ΔPaATG8 autophagy mutants, indicating that a vacuolar cell death reaction without autophagy occurs in Podospora. Our results thus provide a novel example of a type II PCD reaction in which autophagy is not the cause of cell death. In addition, we found that cell death is accelerated in ΔPaATG null mutants, suggesting that autophagy has a protective role in this type II PCD reaction.
Although programmed cell death (PCD) is extensively studied in multicellular organisms, in recent years it has been shown that a unicellular organism, yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, also possesses death program(s). In particular, we have found that a high doses of yeast pheromone is a natural stimulus inducing PCD. Here, we show that the death cascades triggered by pheromone and by a drug amiodarone are very similar. We focused on the role of mitochondria during the pheromone/amiodarone-induced PCD. For the first time, a functional chain of the mitochondria-related events required for a particular case of yeast PCD has been revealed: an enhancement of mitochondrial respiration and of its energy coupling, a strong increase of mitochondrial membrane potential, both events triggered by the rise of cytoplasmic [Ca2+], a burst in generation of reactive oxygen species in center o of the respiratory chain complex III, mitochondrial thread-grain transition, and cytochrome c release from mitochondria. A novel mitochondrial protein required for thread-grain transition is identified.
The yeast cell nucleus has previously been shown to be divided into two regions by a variety of microscopic approaches. We used antibodies specific for the 2,2,7-trimethylguanosine cap structure of small nuclear ribonucleic acids (snRNAs) and for a protein component of small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particles to identify the distribution of small nuclear ribonucleoprotein particles within the yeast cell nucleus. These studies were performed with the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe and the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. By using immunofluorescence microscopy and immunoelectron microscopy, most of the abundant snRNAs were localized to the portion of the nucleus which has heretofore been referred to as the nucleolus. This distribution of snRNAs is different from that found in mammalian cells and suggests that the nucleolar portion of the yeast nucleus contains functional domains in addition to those associated with RNA polymerase I activity.
Yeasts, such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, have long served as useful models for the study of oxidative stress, an event associated with cell death and severe human pathologies. This review will discuss oxidative stress in yeast, in terms of sources of reactive oxygen species (ROS), their molecular targets, and the metabolic responses elicited by cellular ROS accumulation. Responses of yeast to accumulated ROS include upregulation of antioxidants mediated by complex transcriptional changes, activation of pro-survival pathways such as mitophagy, and programmed cell death (PCD) which, apart from apoptosis, includes pathways such as autophagy and necrosis, a form of cell death long considered accidental and uncoordinated. The role of ROS in yeast aging will also be discussed.
oxidative stress; yeast; apoptosis; necrosis; mitophagy; autophagy; aging
Studies conducted in the early 1990s showed for the first time that Saccharomyces cerevisiae can undergo cell death with hallmarks of animal apoptosis. These findings came as a surprise, since suicide machinery was unexpected in unicellular organisms. Today, apoptosis in yeast is well-documented. Apoptotic death of yeast cells has been described under various conditions and S. cerevisiae homologs of human apoptotic genes have been identified and characterized. These studies also revealed fundamental differences between yeast and animal apoptosis; in S. cerevisiae apoptosis is mainly associated with aging and stress adaptation, unlike animal apoptosis, which is essential for proper development. Further, many apoptosis regulatory genes are either missing, or highly divergent in S. cerevisiae. Therefore, in this review we will use the term apoptosis-like programed cell death (PCD) instead of apoptosis. Despite these significant differences, S. cerevisiae has been instrumental in promoting the study of heterologous apoptotic proteins, particularly from human. Work in fungi other than S. cerevisiae revealed differences in the manifestation of PCD in single cell (yeasts) and multicellular (filamentous) species. Such differences may reflect the higher complexity level of filamentous species, and hence the involvement of PCD in a wider range of processes and life styles. It is also expected that differences might be found in the apoptosis apparatus of yeast and filamentous species. In this review we focus on aspects of PCD that are unique or can be better studied in filamentous species. We will highlight the similarities and differences of the PCD machinery between yeast and filamentous species and show the value of using S. cerevisiae along with filamentous species to study apoptosis.
apoptosis; botrytis; fungi; PCD; Saccharomyces
The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae undergoes a mitochondrial-dependent programmed cell death in response to different stimuli, such as acetic acid, with features similar to those of mammalian apoptosis. However, the upstream signaling events in this process, including those leading to mitochondrial membrane permeabilization, are still poorly characterized. Changes in sphingolipid metabolism have been linked to modulation of apoptosis in both yeast and mammalian cells, and ceramides have been detected in mitochondria upon apoptotic stimuli. In this study, we aimed to characterize the contribution of enzymes involved in ceramide metabolism to apoptotic cell death induced by acetic acid. We show that isc1Δ and lag1Δ mutants, lacking inositol phosphosphingolipid phospholipase C and ceramide synthase, respectively, exhibited a higher resistance to acetic acid that was associated with lower levels of some phytoceramide species. Consistently, these mutant cells displayed lower levels of ROS production and reduced mitochondrial alterations, such as mitochondrial fragmentation and degradation, and decreased translocation of cytochrome c into the cytosol in response to acetic acid. These results suggest that ceramide production contributes to cell death induced by acetic acid, especially through hydrolysis of complex sphingolipids catalyzed by Isc1p and de novo synthesis catalyzed by Lag1p, and provide the first in vivo indication of its involvement in mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization in yeast.
Gametogenesis is a fundamental aspect of sexual reproduction in eukaryotes. In the unicellular fungi Saccharomyces cerevisiae (budding yeast) and Schizosaccharomyces pombe (fission yeast), where this developmental programme has been extensively studied, entry into gametogenesis requires the convergence of multiple signals on the promoter of a master regulator. Starvation signals and cellular mating-type information promote the transcription of cell fate inducers, which in turn initiate a transcriptional cascade that propels a unique type of cell division, meiosis, and gamete morphogenesis. Here, we will provide an overview of how entry into gametogenesis is initiated in budding and fission yeast and discuss potential conserved features in the germ cell development of higher eukaryotes.
entry into gametogenesis; meiosis; germ cell; sporulation; master regulator; yeast
Accumulating evidence suggests that yeasts are capable of undergoing programmed cell death (PCD) to benefit long-term survival of the species, and that yeast and mammals may share at least partially conserved PCD pathways. In our experience, mammalian apoptosis assays have not been readily applicable to yeast. Therefore, to take advantage of yeast as a genetic tool to study PCD, we developed a yeast cell death assay that can reliably reveal viability differences between wild-type strains and strains lacking the mitochondrial fission genes DNM1/Drp1 and FIS1, orthologs of mammalian cell death regulators. Cell viability following treatment with acetic acid is quantified by colony formation and vital dye (FUN1) staining to reproducibly detect dose-dependent, genetically programmed yeast cell death.
Yeast; Programmed cell death; Apoptosis; Fis1; Dnm1; Acetic acid; Colony forming assay; FUN1; Mitochondria; Fission
The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of eukaryotic cells contains an abundant 78,000-Da protein (BiP) that is involved in the translocation, folding, and assembly of secretory and transmembrane proteins. In the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as in mammalian cells, BiP mRNA is synthesized at a high basal rate and is further induced by the presence of increased amounts of unfolded proteins in the ER. However, unlike mammalian BiP, yeast BiP is also induced severalfold by heat shock, albeit in a transient fashion. To identify the regulatory sequences that respond to these stimuli in the yeast KAR2 gene that encodes BiP, we have cloned a 1.3-kb segment of DNA from the region upstream of the sequences coding for BiP and fused it to a reporter gene, the Escherichia coli beta-galactosidase gene. Analysis of a series of progressive 5' truncations as well as internal deletions of the upstream sequence showed that the information required for accurate transcriptional regulation of the KAR2 gene in S. cerevisiae is contained within a approximately 230-bp XhoI-DraI fragment (nucleotides -245 to -9) and that this fragment contains at least two cis-acting elements, one (heat shock element [HSE]) responding to heat shock and the other (unfolded protein response element [UPR]) responding to the presence of unfolded proteins in the ER. The HSE and UPR elements are functionally independent of each other but work additively for maximum induction of the yeast KAR2 gene. Lying between these two elements is a GC-rich region that is similar in sequence to the consensus element for binding of the mammalian transcription factor Sp1 and that is involved in the basal expression of the KAR2 gene. Finally, we provide evidence suggesting that yeast cells monitor the concentration of free BiP in the ER and adjust the level of transcription of the KAR2 gene accordingly; this effect is mediated via the UPR element in the KAR2 promoter.
Bax inhibitor-1 (BI-1) is an anti-apoptotic gene whose expression is upregulated in a wide range of human cancers. Studies in both mammalian and plant cells suggest that the BI-1 protein resides in the endoplasmic reticulum and is involved in the unfolded protein response (UPR) that is triggered by ER stress. It is thought to act via a mechanism involving altered calcium dynamics. In this paper, we provide evidence that the Saccharomyces cerevisiae protein encoded by the open reading frame, YNL305C, is a bona fide homolog for BI-1. First, we confirm that yeast cells from two different strain backgrounds lacking YNL305C, which we have renamed BXI1, are more sensitive to heat-shock induced cell death than wildtype controls even though they have indistinguishable growth rates at 30°C. They are also more susceptible both to ethanol-induced and to glucose-induced programmed cell death. Significantly, we show that Bxi1p-GFP colocalizes with the ER localized protein Sec63p-RFP. We have also discovered that Δbxi1 cells are not only more sensitive to drugs that induce ER stress, but also have a decreased unfolded protein response as measured with a UPRE-lacZ reporter. Finally, we have discovered that deleting BXI1 diminishes the calcium signaling response in response to the accumulation of unfolded proteins in the ER as measured by a calcineurin-dependent CDRE-lacZ reporter. In toto, our data suggests that the Bxi1p, like its metazoan homologs, is an ER-localized protein that links the unfolded protein response and programmed cell death.
Given the importance of apoptosis in the pathogenesis of virus infections in mammals, we investigated the possibility that unicellular organisms also respond to viral pathogens by activating programmed cell death. The M1 and M2 killer viruses of Saccharomyces cerevisiae encode pore-forming toxins that were assumed to kill uninfected yeast cells by a nonprogrammed assault. However, we found that yeast persistently infected with these killer viruses induce a programmed suicide pathway in uninfected (nonself) yeast. The M1 virus–encoded K1 toxin is primarily but not solely responsible for triggering the death pathway. Cell death is mediated by the mitochondrial fission factor Dnm1/Drp1, the K+ channel Tok1, and the yeast metacaspase Yca1/Mca1 encoded by the target cell and conserved in mammals. In contrast, cell death is inhibited by yeast Fis1, a pore-forming outer mitochondrial membrane protein. This virus–host relationship in yeast resembles that of pathogenic human viruses that persist in their infected host cells but trigger programmed death of uninfected cells.