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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Germ cell differentiation, the cellular process by which a diploid progenitor cell produces by meiotic divisions haploid cells, is conserved from the unicellular yeasts to mammals. Over the recent years, yeast germ cell differentiation process has proven to be a powerful biological system to identify and study several long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) that play a central role in regulating cellular differentiation by acting directly on chromatin. Remarkably, in the well-studied budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, the lncRNA-based chromatin regulations of germ cell differentiation are quite different. In this review, we present an overview of these regulations by focusing on the mechanisms and their respective functions both in S. cerevisiae and in S. pombe. Part of these lncRNA-based chromatin regulations may be conserved in other eukaryotes and play critical roles either in the context of germ cell differentiation or, more generally, in the development of multicellular organisms.
long noncoding RNA; lncRNA; chromatin; gene silencing; germ cell differentiation; sporulation; yeast; Schizosaccharomyces pombe; Saccharomyces cerevisiae
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
Macroautophagy (autophagy) is crucial for cell survival during starvation and plays important roles in animal development and human diseases. Molecular understanding of autophagy has mainly come from the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and it remains unclear to what extent the mechanisms are the same in other organisms. Here, through screening the mating phenotype of a genome-wide deletion collection of the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, we obtained a comprehensive catalog of autophagy genes in this highly tractable organism, including genes encoding three heretofore unidentified core Atg proteins, Atg10, Atg14, and Atg16, and two novel factors, Ctl1 and Fsc1. We systematically examined the subcellular localization of fission yeast autophagy factors for the first time and characterized the phenotypes of their mutants, thereby uncovering both similarities and differences between the two yeasts. Unlike budding yeast, all three Atg18/WIPI proteins in fission yeast are essential for autophagy, and we found that they play different roles, with Atg18a uniquely required for the targeting of the Atg12–Atg5·Atg16 complex. Our investigation of the two novel factors revealed unforeseen autophagy mechanisms. The choline transporter-like protein Ctl1 interacts with Atg9 and is required for autophagosome formation. The fasciclin domain protein Fsc1 localizes to the vacuole membrane and is required for autophagosome-vacuole fusion but not other vacuolar fusion events. Our study sheds new light on the evolutionary diversity of the autophagy machinery and establishes the fission yeast as a useful model for dissecting the mechanisms of autophagy.
Autophagy is a eukaryotic cellular process that transports cytoplasmic contents into lysosomes/vacuoles for degradation. It has been linked to multiple human diseases, including cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. The molecular machinery of autophagy was first identified and has been best characterized in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, but little is known about the autophagy machinery in another important unicellular model organism, the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. In this study, we performed an unbiased and comprehensive screening of the fission yeast autophagy genes by profiling the mating phenotypes of nearly 3000 deletion strains. Following up on the screening results, we systematically characterized both previously known and newly identified fission yeast autophagy factors by examining their localization and the phenotype of their mutants. Our analysis increased the number of experimentally defined fission yeast autophagy factors from 14 to 23, including two novel factors that act in ways different from all previously known autophagy proteins. Together, our data reveal unexpected evolutionary divergence of autophagy mechanisms and establish a new model system for unraveling the molecular details of the autophagy process.
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.