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Exp Gerontol. 2000 Feb;35(1):63-70.

The influence of oxygen toxicity on yeast mother cell-specific aging.

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Institut für Genetik und Allgemeine Biologie, Hellbrunnerstr. 34, A-5020, Salzburg, Austria.


The effect of deleting both catalase genes and of increased oxygen as well as paraquat (a pro-oxidant) on the replicative life span of yeast mother cells has been investigated to test the so-called oxygen theory of aging. This is well established in higher organisms, but has not been extensively tested in the unicellular yeast model system. Life span determinations were performed in ambient air or in a controlled atmosphere (55% oxygen) and an isogenic series of strains deleted for one or both yeast catalases was used and compared with wild type. In the absence of cellular catalase, increased oxygen caused a marked decrease in life span that could be completely reversed by adding 1 mM GSH, a physiological antioxidant, to the yeast growth medium. In a second unrelated strain, the effects were similar although even the wild type showed a decrease in life span when oxygen was increased. The effect could again be compensated by addition of extracellular GSH. Our results show that manipulating the detoxification of reactive oxygen species has a profound effect on yeast aging. These findings are discussed in the light of recent results relating to oxygen toxicity in the aging process of higher organisms.

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