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Mol Microbiol. 2001 Mar;39(5):1166-73.

Aged mother cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae show markers of oxidative stress and apoptosis.

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Department of Genetics, University of Salzburg, Hellbrunnerstr. 34, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria.


Recently, we and others have shown that genetic and environmental changes that increase the load of yeast cells with reactive oxygen species (ROS) lead to a shortening of the life span of yeast mother cells. Deletions of yeast genes coding for the superoxide dismutases or the catalases, as well as changes in atmospheric oxygen concentration, considerably shortened the life span. The presence of the physiological antioxidant glutathione, on the other hand, increased the life span of yeast cells. Taken together, these results pointed to a role for oxygen in the yeast ageing process. Here, we show by staining with dihydrorhodamine that old yeast mother cells isolated by elutriation, but not young cells, contain ROS that are localized in the mitochondria. A relatively large proportion of the old mother cells shows phenotypic markers of yeast apoptosis, i.e. TUNEL (TdT-mediated dUTP nick end labelling) and annexin V staining. Although it has been shown previously that apoptosis in yeast can be induced by a cdc48 allele, by expressing pro-apoptotic human cDNAs or by stressing the cells with hydrogen peroxide, we are now showing a physiological role for apoptosis in unstressed but aged wild-type yeast mother cells.

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