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Mol Cell. 2002 Apr;9(4):911-7.

A caspase-related protease regulates apoptosis in yeast.

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Institute for Physiological Chemistry, University of Tübingen, Hoppe-Seyler-Strasse 4, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.


Yeast can undergo cell death accompanied by cellular markers of apoptosis. However, orthologs of classical mammalian apoptosis regulators appeared to be missing from the yeast genome, challenging a common mechanism of yeast and mammalian apoptosis. Here we investigate Yor197w, a yeast protein with structural homology to mammalian caspases, and demonstrate caspase-like processing of the protein. Hydrogen peroxide treatment induces apoptosis together with a caspase-like enzymatic activity in yeast. This response is completely abrogated after disruption and strongly stimulated after overexpression of Yor197w. Yor197w also mediates the death process within chronologically aged cultures, pointing to a physiological role in elimination of overaged cells. We conclude that Yor197w indeed functions as a bona fide caspase in yeast and propose the name Yeast Caspase-1 (YCA1, gene YCA1).

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