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Exp Cell Res. 2012 Jul 1;318(11):1193-200. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2012.03.019. Epub 2012 Mar 27.

The metabolism beyond programmed cell death in yeast.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Biosciences, University of Graz, Graz, Austria.


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.

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