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Keywords:

  • Apoptosis;
  • Fission yeast;
  • Cell cycle

Abstract

Recently a metacaspase, encoded by YCA1, has been implicated in a primitive form of apoptosis or programmed cell death in yeast. Previously it had been shown that over-expression of mammalian pro-apoptotic proteins can induce cell death in yeast, but the mechanism of how cell death occurred was not clearly established. More recently, it has been shown that DNA or oxidative damage, or other cell cycle blocks, can result in cell death that mimics apoptosis in higher cells. Also, in fission yeast deletion of genes required for triacylglycerol synthesis leads to cell death and expression of apoptotic markers. A metacaspase sharing greater than 40% identity to budding yeast Yca1 has been identified in fission yeast, however, its role in programmed cell death is not yet known. Analysis of the genetic pathways that influence cell death in yeast may provide insights into the mechanisms of apoptosis in all eukaryotic organisms.