2Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia; fax: (495) 939-3181; E-mail: email@example.com
* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received August 31, 2010; Revision received October 5, 2010
Recently it was convincingly shown that the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae does possess the basic modules of programmed cell death machinery. As programmed cell death is suicide for a unicellular organism, it is reasonable to assume that they trigger the program when the death is beneficial for the rest of the population. Not surprisingly, most of the scenarios of physiological death of S. cerevisiae, i.e. cell death in stationary culture, during meiosis, during mating, and driven by viruses are dependent on quorum sensing, meaning that they depend on the cell density. Here we also discuss possible mechanisms that govern fitness decline during replicative aging of S. cerevisiae cells. We argue that loss of mitochondrial DNA function that occurs during replicative aging is programmed and adaptive. Indeed, yeast cells with nonfunctional mitochondrial DNA are known to be extremely stress-resistant, and also the presence of a subpopulation of such cells might protect the culture from degeneration by preventing the fixation of opportunistic mutations.
KEY WORDS: aging, apoptosis, mitochondria, petite, yeast