Reduced supply of the amino acid methionine increases longevity across species through an as yet elusive mechanism. Here, we report that methionine restriction (MetR) extends yeast chronological lifespan in an autophagy-dependent manner. Single deletion of several genes essential for autophagy (ATG5, ATG7 or ATG8) fully abolished the longevity-enhancing capacity of MetR. While pharmacological or genetic inhibition of TOR1 increased lifespan in methionine-prototroph yeast, TOR1 suppression failed to extend the longevity of methionine-restricted yeast cells. Notably, vacuole-acidity was specifically enhanced by MetR, a phenotype that essentially required autophagy. Overexpression of vacuolar ATPase components (Vma1p or Vph2p) suffices to increase chronological lifespan of methionine-prototrophic yeast. In contrast, lifespan extension upon MetR was prevented by inhibition of vacuolar acidity upon disruption of the vacuolar ATPase. In conclusion, autophagy promotes lifespan extension upon MetR and requires the subsequent stimulation of vacuolar acidification, while it is epistatic to the equally autophagy-dependent anti-aging pathway triggered by TOR1 inhibition or deletion.
Health- or lifespan-prolonging regimes would be beneficial at both the individual and the social level. Nevertheless, up to date only very few experimental settings have been proven to promote longevity in mammals. Among them is the reduction of food intake (caloric restriction) or the pharmacological administration of caloric restriction mimetics like rapamycin. The latter one, however, is accompanied by not yet fully estimated and undesirable side effects. In contrast, the limitation of one specific amino acid, namely methionine, which has also been demonstrated to elongate the lifespan of mammals, has the advantage of being a well applicable regime. Therefore, understanding the underlying mechanism of the anti-aging effects of methionine restriction is of crucial importance. With the help of the model organism yeast, we show that limitation in methionine drastically enhances autophagy, a cellular process of self-digestion that is also switched on during caloric restriction. Moreover, we demonstrate that this occurs in causal conjunction with an efficient pH decrease in the organelle responsible for the digestive capacity of the cell (the vacuole). Finally, we prove that autophagy-dependent vacuolar acidification is necessary for methionine restriction-mediated lifespan extension.