Aberrant regulation of apoptosis, or programmed cell death, contributes to the aetiology of several diseases, including cancers, immunodeficiencies and neurodegenerative illnesses. We hypothesized that key features of mammalian cell death regulation maybe conserved in single celled organisms such as the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We previously identified the yeast gene SVF1 in a screen for mutations that could be functionally complemented by exogenous expression of the human anti-apoptotic gene Bcl-xL. Anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members have been shown to promote redox stability through upregulation of antioxidant pathways in mammalian cells. Here we demonstrate that the Svf1 protein is required for yeast survival under conditions of oxidative stress, including cold stress. Cells lacking SVF1 are hypersensitive to conditions associated with increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation and to direct chemical precursors of ROS, and demonstrate increased levels of ROS under these conditions. Hypersensitivity to oxidative stress can be reversed by treatment with the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine or expression of exogenous SVF1, although exogenous expression of Bcl-xL did not protect cells from cold stress. Exogenous SVF1 expression in mammalian cells confers resistance to H2O2 exposure. Our data are consistent with previous observations suggesting a key role of oxidative stress response in mammalian apoptotic regulation and validate the use of S. cerevisiae as a model for studying programmed cell death.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)