• Open Access

Chemical genetic screen in fission yeast reveals roles for vacuolar acidification, mitochondrial fission, and cellular GMP levels in lifespan extension



Ann E. Ehrenhofer-Murray, Zentrum für Medizinische Biotechnologie, Universität Duisburg-Essen, Universitätsstr. 5, 45117 Essen, Germany. Tel.: +49 201183 4132; fax: +49 201 183 4397; e-mail: ann.ehrenhofer-murray@uni-due.de


The discovery that genetic mutations in several cellular pathways can increase lifespan has lent support to the notion that pharmacological inhibition of aging pathways can be used to extend lifespan and to slow the onset of age-related diseases. However, so far, only few compounds with such activities have been described. Here, we have conducted a chemical genetic screen for compounds that cause the extension of chronological lifespan of Schizosaccharomyces pombe. We have characterized eight natural products with such activities, which has allowed us to uncover so far unknown anti-aging pathways in S. pombe. The ionophores monensin and nigericin extended lifespan by affecting vacuolar acidification, and this effect depended on the presence of the vacuolar ATPase (V-ATPase) subunits Vma1 and Vma3. Furthermore, prostaglandin J2 displayed anti-aging properties due to the inhibition of mitochondrial fission, and its effect on longevity required the mitochondrial fission protein Dnm1 as well as the G-protein-coupled glucose receptor Git3. Also, two compounds that inhibit guanosine monophosphate (GMP) synthesis, mycophenolic acid (MPA) and acivicin, caused lifespan extension, indicating that an imbalance in guanine nucleotide levels impinges upon longevity. We furthermore have identified diindolylmethane (DIM), tschimganine, and the compound mixture mangosteen as inhibiting aging. Taken together, these results reveal unanticipated anti-aging activities for several phytochemicals and open up opportunities for the development of novel anti-aging therapies.