A hallmark of macroautophagy is the formation of autophagosomes, double-membrane vesicles that enwrap cellular components destined for lysosomal degradation. We examined autophagosomal protein dynamics under various inducing stimuli using a comprehensive mass spectrometry-based proteomics approach in combination with functional studies in yeast and human cell cultures. Time frame and stimuli type influenced the autophagosome proteome, underlining the dynamic constitution of the organelle. We identified both a core set of proteins always localizing to autophagosomes and stimulus-dependent components that will serve as a resource for further characterization of the autophagosomal machinery and cargo selection. Among the core proteins were newly discovered autophagy regulators found to be conserved from yeast to humans, as well as the proteasome.
autophagosome; proteasome; proteomics; mass spectrometry; macroautophagy
Following microbial pathogen invasion, the human immune system of activated phagocytes generates and releases the potent oxidant hypochlorous acid (HOCl), which contributes to the killing of menacing microorganisms. Though tightly controlled, HOCl generation by the myeloperoxidase-hydrogen peroxide-chloride system of neutrophils/monocytes may occur in excess and lead to tissue damage. It is thus of marked importance to delineate the molecular pathways underlying HOCl cytotoxicity in both microbial and human cells. Here, we show that HOCl induces the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), apoptotic cell death and the formation of specific HOCl-modified epitopes in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Interestingly, HOCl cytotoxicity can be prevented by treatment with ROS scavengers, suggesting oxidative stress to mediate the lethal effect. The executing pathway involves the pro-apoptotic protease Kex1p, since its absence diminishes HOCl-induced production of ROS, apoptosis and protein modification. By characterizing HOCl-induced cell death in yeast and identifying a corresponding central executor, these results pave the way for the use of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in HOCl research, not least given that it combines both being a microorganism as well as a model for programmed cell death in higher eukaryotes.
hypochlorous acid; HOCl; apoptosis; reactive oxygen species; yeast; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; mitochondria
Spermidine is a naturally occurring polyamine involved in multiple biological processes, including DNA metabolism, autophagy and aging. Like other polyamines, spermidine is also indispensable for successful reproduction at several stages. However, a direct influence on the actual fertilization process, i.e., the fusion of an oocyte with a spermatocyte, remains uncertain. To explore this possibility, we established the mating process in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model for fertilization in higher eukaryotes. During human fertilization, the sperm capacitates and the acrosome reaction is necessary for penetration of the oocyte. Similarly, sexually active yeasts form a protrusion called “shmoo” as a prerequisite for mating. In this study, we demonstrate that pheromone-induced shmoo formation requires spermidine. In addition, we show that spermidine is essential for mating in yeast as well as for egg fertilization in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. In both cases, this occurs independently from autophagy. In synthesis, we identify spermidine as an important mating component in unicellular and multicellular model organisms, supporting an unprecedented evolutionary conservation of the mechanisms governing fertilization-related cellular fusion.
Caenorhabditis elegans; spermidine; mating; fertilization; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; shmoo; autophagy; sexual reproduction
Neither the molecular mechanisms whereby cancer cells intrinsically are or become resistant to the DNA-damaging agent cisplatin nor the signaling pathways that account for cisplatin cytotoxicity have thus far been characterized in detail. In an attempt to gain further insights into the molecular cascades elicited by cisplatin (leading to resistance or underpinning its antineoplastic properties), we comparatively investigated the ability of cisplatin, C2-ceramide and cadmium dichloride, alone or in the presence of an array of mitochondrion-protective agents, to trigger the permeabilization of purified mitochondria. In addition, we compared the transcriptional response triggered by cisplatin, C2-ceramide and cadmium dichloride in non-small cell lung carcinoma A549 cells. Finally, we assessed the capacity of cisplatin, C2-ceramide and cadmium dichloride to reduce the clonogenic potential of a battery of yeast strains lacking proteins involved in the regulation of cell death, DNA damage signaling and stress management. This multipronged experimental approach revealed that cisplatin elicits signaling pathways that are for the most part “private,” i.e., that manifest limited overlap with the molecular cascades ignited by other inducers of mitochondrial apoptosis, and triggers apoptosis mainly in a transcription-independent fashion. Indeed, bona fide cisplatin-response modifiers that we have recently identified by a functional genome-wide siRNA screen are either not transcriptionally regulated during cisplatin-induced cell death or their transcriptional modulation reflects the activation of an adaptive response promoting cisplatin resistance
N-acetyl-cysteine; autophagy; bongkrekic acid; cyclosporine A; glutathione; large-amplitude swelling
A cell's reaction to any change in the endogenous or exogenous conditions often involves a complex response that eventually either leads to cell adaptation and survival or to the initiation and execution of (programmed) cell death. The molecular decision whether to live or die, while depending on a cell's genome, is fundamentally influenced by its actual metabolic status. Thus, the collection of all metabolites present in a biological system at a certain time point (the so-called metabolome) defines its physiological, developmental and pathological state and determines its fate during changing and stressful conditions. The budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a unicellular organism that allows to easily modify and monitor conditions affecting the cell's metabolome, for instance through a simple change of the nutrition source. Such changes can be used to mimic and study (patho)physiological scenarios, including caloric restriction and longevity, the Warburg effect in cancer cells or changes in mitochondrial mass affecting cell death. In addition, disruption of single genes or generation of respiratory deficiency (via abrogation of mitochondrial DNA) assists in revealing connections between metabolism and apoptosis. In this minireview, we discuss recent studies using the potential of the yeast model to provide new insights into the processes of stress defense, cell death and longevity.
Yeast; Apoptosis; Metabolome; Warburg effect; Starvation; Glucose
Background: Accumulation of palmitic acid in endothelial cells induces cellular dysfunction and death.
Results: Palmitic acid triggers Ca2+-dependent autophagy, which results in programmed necrotic death (necroptosis) of endothelial cells.
Conclusion: Autophagy promotes lipotoxic signaling of palmitic acid in endothelial cells leading to necroptosis.
Significance: Showing a new molecular mechanism of palmitic acid-induced cytotoxicity may reveal novel strategies in the treatment of diseases related to lipid overload.
Accumulation of palmitic acid (PA) in cells from nonadipose tissues is known to induce lipotoxicity resulting in cellular dysfunction and death. The exact molecular pathways of PA-induced cell death are still mysterious. Here, we show that PA triggers autophagy, which did not counteract but in contrast promoted endothelial cell death. The PA-induced cell death was predominantly necrotic as indicated by annexin V and propidium iodide (PI) staining, absence of caspase activity, low levels of DNA hypoploidy, and an early ATP depletion. In addition PA induced a strong elevation of mRNA levels of ubiquitin carboxyl-terminal hydrolase (CYLD), a known mediator of necroptosis. Moreover, siRNA-mediated knockdown of CYLD significantly antagonized PA-induced necrosis of endothelial cells. In contrast, inhibition and knockdown of receptor interacting protein kinase 1 (RIPK1) had no effect on PA-induced necrosis, indicating the induction of a CYLD-dependent but RIPK1-independent cell death pathway. PA was recognized as a strong and early inducer of autophagy. The inhibition of autophagy by both pharmacological inhibitors and genetic knockdown of the autophagy-specific genes, vacuolar protein sorting 34 (VPS34), and autophagy-related protein 7 (ATG7), could rescue the PA-induced death of endothelial cells. Moreover, the initiation of autophagy and cell death by PA was reduced in endothelial cells loaded with the Ca2+ chelator 1,2-bis(o-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N′,N′-tetraacetic acid-(acetoxymethyl) ester (BAPTA-AM), indicating that Ca2+ triggers the fatal signaling of PA. In summary, we introduce an unexpected mechanism of lipotoxicity in endothelial cells and provide several novel strategies to counteract the lipotoxic signaling of PA.
Autophagy; Endothelial Cell; Fatty Acid; Lipotoxicity; Necrosis (Necrotic Death); CYLD; RIPK3; Palmitic Acid
Lipolysis is defined as the catabolism of triacylglycerols stored in cellular lipid droplets. Recent discoveries of essential lipolytic enzymes and characterization of numerous regulatory proteins and mechanisms have fundamentally changed our perception of lipolysis and its impact on cellular metabolism. New findings that lipolytic products and intermediates participate in cellular signaling processes and that “lipolytic signaling” is particularly important in many nonadipose tissues unveil a previously underappreciated aspect of lipolysis, which may be relevant for human disease.
Autophagy is one of the major intracellular catabolic pathways, but little is known about the composition of autophagosomes. To study the associated proteins, we isolated autophagosomes from human breast cancer cells using two different biochemical methods and three stimulus types: amino acid deprivation or rapamycin or concanamycin A treatment. The autophagosome-associated proteins were dependent on stimulus, but a core set of proteins was stimulus-independent. Remarkably, proteasomal proteins were abundant among the stimulus-independent common autophagosome-associated proteins, and the activation of autophagy significantly decreased the cellular proteasome level and activity supporting interplay between the two degradation pathways. A screen of yeast strains defective in the orthologs of the human genes encoding for a common set of autophagosome-associated proteins revealed several regulators of autophagy, including subunits of the retromer complex. The combined spatiotemporal proteomic and genetic data sets presented here provide a basis for further characterization of autophagosome biogenesis and cargo selection.
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) are nuclear hormone receptors that regulate genes involved in energy metabolism and inflammation. For biological activity, PPARs require cognate lipid ligands, heterodimerization with retinoic × receptors, and coactivation by PPAR-γ coactivator-1α or PPAR-γ coactivator-1β (PGC-1α or PGC-1β, encoded by Ppargc1a and Ppargc1b, respectively). Here we show that lipolysis of cellular triglycerides by adipose triglyceride lipase (patatin-like phospholipase domain containing protein 2, encoded by Pnpla2; hereafter referred to as Atgl) generates essential mediator(s) involved in the generation of lipid ligands for PPAR activation. Atgl deficiency in mice decreases mRNA levels of PPAR-α and PPAR-δ target genes. In the heart, this leads to decreased PGC-1α and PGC-1β expression and severely disrupted mitochondrial substrate oxidation and respiration; this is followed by excessive lipid accumulation, cardiac insufficiency and lethal cardiomyopathy. Reconstituting normal PPAR target gene expression by pharmacological treatment of Atgl-deficient mice with PPAR-α agonists completely reverses the mitochondrial defects, restores normal heart function and prevents premature death. These findings reveal a potential treatment for the excessive cardiac lipid accumulation and often-lethal cardiomyopathy in people with neutral lipid storage disease, a disease marked by reduced or absent ATGL activity.
We show that Ydr049 (renamed VCP/ Cdc48-associated Mitochondrial Stress-responsive—Vms1), a member of an unstudied pan-eukaryotic protein family, translocates from the cytosol to mitochondria upon mitochondrial stress. Cells lacking Vms1 show progressive mitochondrial failure, hypersensitivity to oxidative stress and decreased chronological lifespan. Both yeast and mammalian Vms1 stably interact with Cdc48/ VCP/ p97, a component of the ubiquitin/ proteasome system with a well-defined role in endoplasmic reticulum-associated protein degradation (ERAD), wherein misfolded ER proteins are degraded in the cytosol. We show that oxidative stress triggers mitochondrial localization of Cdc48 and this is dependent on Vms1. When this system is impaired by mutation of Vms1, ubiquitin-dependent mitochondrial protein degradation, mitochondrial respiratory function and cell viability are compromised. We demonstrate that Vms1 is a required component of an evolutionarily conserved system for mitochondrial protein degradation, which is necessary to maintain mitochondrial, cellular and organismal viability.
The acetylase inhibitor spermidine and the sirtuin-1 activator resveratrol disrupt the antagonistic network of acetylases and deacetylases that regulate autophagy.
Autophagy protects organelles, cells, and organisms against several stress conditions. Induction of autophagy by resveratrol requires the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide–dependent deacetylase sirtuin 1 (SIRT1). In this paper, we show that the acetylase inhibitor spermidine stimulates autophagy independent of SIRT1 in human and yeast cells as well as in nematodes. Although resveratrol and spermidine ignite autophagy through distinct mechanisms, these compounds stimulate convergent pathways that culminate in concordant modifications of the acetylproteome. Both agents favor convergent deacetylation and acetylation reactions in the cytosol and in the nucleus, respectively. Both resveratrol and spermidine were able to induce autophagy in cytoplasts (enucleated cells). Moreover, a cytoplasm-restricted mutant of SIRT1 could stimulate autophagy, suggesting that cytoplasmic deacetylation reactions dictate the autophagic cascade. At doses at which neither resveratrol nor spermidine stimulated autophagy alone, these agents synergistically induced autophagy. Altogether, these data underscore the importance of an autophagy regulatory network of antagonistic deacetylases and acetylases that can be pharmacologically manipulated.
Polyamines are polycations that interact with negatively charged molecules such as DNA, RNA and proteins. They play multiple roles in cell growth, survival and proliferation. Changes in polyamine levels have been associated with aging and diseases. Their levels decline continuously with age and polyamine (spermidine or high-polyamine diet) supplementation increases life span in model organisms. Polyamines have also been involved in stress resistance. On the other hand, polyamines are increased in cancer cells and are a target for potential chemotherapeutic agents. In this review, we bring together these various results and draw a picture of the state of our knowledge on the roles of polyamines in aging, stress and diseases.
Polyamines; Aging; Age-related diseases; Cancer; Autophagy; Acetylation
Pathological neuronal inclusions of the 43-kDa TAR DNA-binding protein (TDP-43) are implicated in dementia and motor neuron disorders; however, the molecular mechanisms of the underlying cell loss remain poorly understood. Here we used a yeast model to elucidate cell death mechanisms upon expression of human TDP-43. TDP-43-expressing cells displayed markedly increased markers of oxidative stress, apoptosis, and necrosis. Cytotoxicity was dose- and age-dependent and was potentiated upon expression of disease-associated variants. TDP-43 was localized in perimitochondrial aggregate-like foci, which correlated with cytotoxicity. Although the deleterious effects of TDP-43 were significantly decreased in cells lacking functional mitochondria, cell death depended neither on the mitochondrial cell death proteins apoptosis-inducing factor, endonuclease G, and cytochrome c nor on the activity of cell death proteases like the yeast caspase 1. In contrast, impairment of the respiratory chain attenuated the lethality upon TDP-43 expression with a stringent correlation between cytotoxicity and the degree of respiratory capacity or mitochondrial DNA stability. Consistently, an increase in the respiratory capacity of yeast resulted in enhanced TDP-43-triggered cytotoxicity, oxidative stress, and cell death markers. These data demonstrate that mitochondria and oxidative stress are important to TDP-43-triggered cell death in yeast and may suggest a similar role in human TDP-43 pathologies.
Cell Death; Mitochondria; Neurodegeneration; Respiratory Chain; Yeast
Plant defensins are active against plant and human pathogenic fungi (such as Candida albicans) and baker's yeast. However, they are non-toxic to human cells, providing a possible source for treatment of fungal infections. In this study, we characterized the mode of action of the antifungal plant defensin HsAFP1 from coral bells by screening the Saccharomyces cerevisiae deletion mutant library for mutants with altered HsAFP1 sensitivity and verified the obtained genetic data by biochemical assays in S. cerevisiae and C. albicans. We identified 84 genes, which when deleted conferred at least fourfold hypersensitivity or resistance to HsAFP1. A considerable part of these genes were found to be implicated in mitochondrial functionality. In line, sodium azide, which blocks the respiratory electron transport chain, antagonized HsAFP1 antifungal activity, suggesting that a functional respiratory chain is indispensable for HsAFP1 antifungal action. Since mitochondria are the main source of cellular reactive oxygen species (ROS), we investigated the ROS-inducing nature of HsAFP1. We showed that HsAFP1 treatment of C. albicans resulted in ROS accumulation. As ROS accumulation is one of the phenotypic markers of apoptosis in yeast, we could further demonstrate that HsAFP1 induced apoptosis in C. albicans. These data provide novel mechanistic insights in the mode of action of a plant defensin.
plant defensin; Candida albicans; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; mitochondria; apoptosis; mode of action
We demonstrated that a yeast deletion mutant in IPT1 and SKN1, encoding proteins involved in biosynthesis of mannosyldiinositolphosphoryl ceramides, is characterized by increased autophagy and DNA fragmentation upon nitrogen starvation as compared to the single deletion mutants or wild type (WT). Apoptotic features were not significantly different between single and double deletion mutants upon nitrogen starvation, pointing to increased autophagy in the double Δipt1 Δskn1 deletion mutant independent of apoptosis. We observed increased basal levels of phytosphingosine in membranes of the double Δipt1 Δskn1 deletion mutant as compared to the single deletion mutants or WT. These data point to a negative regulation of autophagy by both Ipt1 and Skn1 in yeast, with a putative involvement of phytosphingosine in this process.
autophagy; DNA fragmentation; apoptosis; sphingolipid
Programmed cell death of lipid-laden macrophages is a prominent feature of atherosclerotic lesions and mostly ascribed to accumulation of excess intracellular cholesterol. The present in vitro study investigated whether intracellular triacylglycerol (TG) accumulation could activate a similar apoptotic response in macrophages. To address this question, we utilized peritoneal macrophages isolated from mice lacking adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL), the major enzyme responsible for TG hydrolysis in multiple tissues. In Atgl−/− macrophages, we observed elevated levels of cytosolic Ca2+ and reactive oxygen species, stimulated cytochrome c release, and nuclear localization of apoptosis-inducing factor. Fragmented mitochondria prior to cell death were indicative of the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway being triggered as a consequence of defective lipolysis. Other typical markers of apoptosis, such as externalization of phosphatidylserine in the plasma membrane, caspase 3 and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage, were increased in Atgl−/− macrophages. An artificial increase of cellular TG levels by incubating wild-type macrophages with very low density lipoprotein closely mimicked the apoptotic phenotype observed in Atgl−/− macrophages. Results obtained during the present study define a novel pathway linking intracellular TG accumulation to mitochondrial dysfunction and programmed cell death in macrophages.
Apoptosis; Lipase; Macrophage; Mitochondrial Apoptosis; Triacylglycerol; Adipose Triglyceride Lipase; Lipotoxicity; Mitochondrial Dysfunction; Triacylglycerol Accumulation
Parkinson's disease is characterized by the presence of cytoplasmic inclusions, known as Lewy bodies, containing both aggregated α-synuclein and its interaction partner, synphilin-1. While synphilin-1 is known to accelerate inclusion formation by α-synuclein in mammalian cells, its effect on cytotoxicity remains elusive.
We expressed wild-type synphilin-1 or its R621C mutant either alone or in combination with α-synuclein in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and monitored the intracellular localization and inclusion formation of the proteins as well as the repercussions on growth, oxidative stress and cell death. We found that wild-type and mutant synphilin-1 formed inclusions and accelerated inclusion formation by α-synuclein in yeast cells, the latter being correlated to enhanced phosphorylation of serine-129. Synphilin-1 inclusions co-localized with lipid droplets and endomembranes. Consistently, we found that wild-type and mutant synphilin-1 interacts with detergent-resistant membrane domains, known as lipid rafts. The expression of synphilin-1 did not incite a marked growth defect in exponential cultures, which is likely due to the formation of aggresomes and the retrograde transport of inclusions from the daughter cells back to the mother cells. However, when the cultures approached stationary phase and during subsequent ageing of the yeast cells, both wild-type and mutant synphilin-1 reduced survival and triggered apoptotic and necrotic cell death, albeit to a different extent. Most interestingly, synphilin-1 did not trigger cytotoxicity in ageing cells lacking the sirtuin Sir2. This indicates that the expression of synphilin-1 in wild-type cells causes the deregulation of Sir2-dependent processes, such as the maintenance of the autophagic flux in response to nutrient starvation.
Our findings demonstrate that wild-type and mutant synphilin-1 are lipid raft interacting proteins that form inclusions and accelerate inclusion formation of α-synuclein when expressed in yeast. Synphilin-1 thereby induces cytotoxicity, an effect most pronounced for the wild-type protein and mediated via Sir2-dependent processes.
As time goes by, a postmitotic cell ages following a degeneration process ultimately ending in cell death. This phenomenon is evolutionary conserved and present in unicellular eukaryotes as well, making the yeast chronological aging system an appreciated model. Here, single cells die in a programmed fashion (both by apoptosis and necrosis) for the benefit of the whole population. Besides its meaning for aging and cell death research, age-induced programmed cell death represents the first experimental proof for the so-called group selection theory: Apoptotic genes became selected during evolution because of the benefits they might render to the whole cell culture and not to the individual cell.
Many anti-aging stimuli have been discovered in the yeast chronological aging system and have afterwards been confirmed in higher cells or organisms. New work from the Burhans group (this issue) now demonstrates that glucose signaling has a progeriatric effect on chronologically aged yeast cells: Glucose administration results in a diminished efficacy of cells to enter quiescence, finally causing superoxide-mediated replication stress and apoptosis.
autophagy; chronological lifespan; longevity; superoxide; ROS; growth signaling; group selection theory
autophagy has widely been conceived as a self-destructive mechanism that
causes cell death, accumulating evidence suggests that autophagy usually
mediates cytoprotection, thereby avoiding the apoptotic or necrotic demise
of stressed cells. Recent evidence produced by our groups demonstrates that
autophagy is also involved in pharmacological manipulations that increase
longevity. Exogenous supply of the polyamine spermidine can prolong the
lifespan of (while inducing autophagy in) yeast, nematodes and flies.
Similarly, resveratrol can trigger autophagy in cells from different
organisms, extend lifespan in nematodes, and ameliorate the fitness of
human cells undergoing metabolic stress. These beneficial effects are lost
when essential autophagy modulators are genetically or pharmacologically
inactivated, indicating that autophagy is required for the cytoprotective
and/or anti-aging effects of spermidine and resveratrol. Genetic and
functional studies indicate that spermidine inhibits histone acetylases,
while resveratrol activates the histone deacetylase Sirtuin 1 to confer
cytoprotection/longevity. Although it remains elusive whether the same
histones (or perhaps other nuclear or cytoplasmic proteins) act as the downstream
targets of spermidine and resveratrol, these results point to an essential
role of protein hypoacetylation in autophagy control and in the regulation
AMPK; Caenorhabditis elegans; IKK; mTOR; p53; Saccharomyces cerevisiae
mother cell-specific aging constitutes a model of replicative aging as it
occurs in stem cell populations of higher eukaryotes. Here, we present a
new long-lived yeast deletion mutation,afo1 (for aging factor one),
that confers a 60% increase in replicative lifespan. AFO1/MRPL25
codes for a protein that is contained in the large subunit of the
mitochondrial ribosome. Double mutant experiments indicate that the
longevity-increasing action of the afo1 mutation is independent of
mitochondrial translation, yet involves the cytoplasmic Tor1p as well as
the growth-controlling transcription factor Sfp1p. In their final cell
cycle, the long-lived mutant cells do show the phenotypes of yeast
apoptosis indicating that the longevity of the mutant is not caused by an
inability to undergo programmed cell death. Furthermore, the afo1 mutation
displays high resistance against oxidants. Despite the respiratory
deficiency the mutant has paradoxical increase in growth rate compared to
generic petite mutants. A comparison of the single and double mutant
strains for afo1 and fob1 shows that the longevity phenotype
of afo1 is independent of the formation of ERCs (ribosomal DNA
minicircles). AFO1/MRPL25 function establishes a new connection
between mitochondria, metabolism and aging.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae; yeast mother cell-specific ageing; TOR complex; rapamycin
Multiple cellular stressors, including activation of the tumour suppressor p53, can stimulate autophagy. Here we show that knockout, knockdown or pharmacological inhibition of p53 can induce autophagy in human, mouse and nematode cells. Enhanced autophagy improved the survival of p53-deficient cancer cells under conditions of hypoxia and nutrient depletion, allowing them to maintain high ATP levels. Inhibition of p53 led to autophagy in enucleated cells, and cytoplasmic, not nuclear, p53 was able to repress the enhanced autophagy of p53-/- cells. Many different inducers of autophagy (for example, starvation, rapamycin and toxins affecting the endoplasmic reticulum) stimulated proteasome-mediated degradation of p53 through a pathway relying on the E3 ubiquitin ligase HDM2. Inhibition of p53 degradation prevented the activation of autophagy in several cell lines, in response to several distinct stimuli. These results provide evidence of a key signalling pathway that links autophagy to the cancer-associated dysregulation of p53.
Otto Warburg observed that cancer cells are often characterized by intense glycolysis in the presence of oxygen and a concomitant decrease in mitochondrial respiration. Research has mainly focused on a possible connection between increased glycolysis and tumor development whereas decreased respiration has largely been left unattended. Therefore, a causal relation between decreased respiration and tumorigenesis has not been demonstrated.
For this purpose, colonies of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is suitable for manipulation of mitochondrial respiration and shows mitochondria-mediated cell death, were used as a model. Repression of respiration as well as ROS-scavenging via glutathione inhibited apoptosis and conferred a survival advantage during seeding and early development of this fast proliferating solid cell population. In contrast, enhancement of respiration triggered cell death.
Thus, the Warburg effect might directly contribute to the initiation of cancer formation - not only by enhanced glycolysis - but also via decreased respiration in the presence of oxygen, which suppresses apoptosis.
The purpose of apoptosis in multicellular organisms is obvious: single cells die for the benefit of the whole organism (for example, during tissue development or embryogenesis). Although apoptosis has also been shown in various microorganisms, the reason for this cell death program has remained unexplained. Recently published studies have now described yeast apoptosis during aging, mating, or exposure to killer toxins (Fabrizio, P., L. Battistella, R. Vardavas, C. Gattazzo, L.L. Liou, A. Diaspro, J.W. Dossen, E.B. Gralla, and V.D. Longo. 2004. J. Cell Biol. 166:1055–1067; Herker, E., H. Jungwirth, K.A. Lehmann, C. Maldener, K.U. Frohlich, S. Wissing, S. Buttner, M. Fehr, S. Sigrist, and F. Madeo. 2004. J. Cell Biol. 164:501–507, underscoring the evolutionary benefit of a cell suicide program in yeast and, thus, giving a unicellular organism causes to die for.
Quiescence is the most common and, arguably, most poorly understood cell cycle state. This is in part because pure populations of quiescent cells are typically difficult to isolate. We report the isolation and characterization of quiescent and nonquiescent cells from stationary-phase (SP) yeast cultures by density-gradient centrifugation. Quiescent cells are dense, unbudded daughter cells formed after glucose exhaustion. They synchronously reenter the mitotic cell cycle, suggesting that they are in a G0 state. Nonquiescent cells are less dense, heterogeneous, and composed of replicatively older, asynchronous cells that rapidly lose the ability to reproduce. Microscopic and flow cytometric analysis revealed that nonquiescent cells accumulate more reactive oxygen species than quiescent cells, and over 21 d, about half exhibit signs of apoptosis and necrosis. The ability to isolate both quiescent and nonquiescent yeast cells from SP cultures provides a novel, tractable experimental system for studies of quiescence, chronological and replicative aging, apoptosis, and the cell cycle.
In yeast, apoptotic cell death can be triggered by various factors such as H2O2, cell aging, or acetic acid. Yeast caspase (Yca1p) and cellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) are key regulators of this process. Here, we show that moderate doses of three virally encoded killer toxins (K1, K28, and zygocin) induce an apoptotic yeast cell response, although all three toxins differ significantly in their primary killing mechanisms. In contrast, high toxin concentrations prevent the occurrence of an apoptotic cell response and rather cause necrotic, toxin-specific cell killing. Studies with Δyca1 and Δgsh1 deletion mutants indicate that ROS accumulation as well as the presence of yeast caspase 1 is needed for apoptosis in toxin-treated yeast cells. We conclude that in the natural environment of toxin-secreting killer yeasts, where toxin concentration is usually low, induction of apoptosis might play an important role in efficient toxin-mediated cell killing.