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Natural Conditions Inducing Programmed Cell Death in the Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

D. A. Knorre1, E. A. Smirnova1, and F. F. Severin2*

1Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119992 Moscow, Russia: fax: (7-095) 939-3181; E-mail: knorre@belozersky.msu.ru

2BioTechnological Center, University of Technology Dresden, Tatzberg 49, D-01307 Dresden, Germany: fax: (0351) 463-40244; E-mail: severin@mpi-cbg.de

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received September 28, 2004
Although yeasts have been extensively used as an experimental model to study apoptosis, it is still unclear why a unicellular organism like yeast possesses a suicide program. Here we discuss three hypothetical scenarios of “natural” yeast suicide. We argue that by correctly deducing the physiological situation(s) for yeast to undergo cell death, one can not only improve the efficiency of yeast as model system for apoptotic studies, but also obtain a certain insight into the survival strategies of communities of organisms.
KEY WORDS: yeast, programmed cell death, mitochondria, membrane potential, pheromone, reactive oxygen species (ROS), sporulation