Hyperosmotic stress induces metacaspase- and mitochondria-dependent apoptosis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Mol Microbiol. 2005 Nov;58(3):824-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2005.04868.x.


During the last years, several reports described an apoptosis-like programmed cell death process in yeast in response to different environmental aggressions. Here, evidence is presented that hyperosmotic stress caused by high glucose or sorbitol concentrations in culture medium induces in Saccharomyces cerevisiae a cell death process accompanied by morphological and biochemical indicators of apoptotic programmed cell death, namely chromatin condensation along the nuclear envelope, mitochondrial swelling and reduction of cristae number, production of reactive oxygen species and DNA strand breaks, with maintenance of plasma membrane integrity. Disruption of AIF1 had no effect on cell survival, but lack of Yca1p drastically reduced metacaspase activation and decreased cell death indicating that this death process was associated to activation of this protease. Supporting the involvement of mitochondria and cytochrome c in caspase activation, the mutant strains cyc1Deltacyc7Delta and cyc3Delta, both lacking mature cytochrome c, displayed a decrease in caspase activation associated to increased cell survival when exposed to hyperosmotic stress. These findings indicate that hyperosmotic stress triggers S. cerevisiae into an apoptosis-like programmed cell death that is mediated by a caspase-dependent mitochondrial pathway partially dependent on cytochrome c.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Caspases / genetics
  • Caspases / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Cell Survival
  • Culture Media / chemistry*
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Hypertonic Solutions
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Osmotic Pressure
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / ultrastructure
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism
  • Sorbitol / metabolism
  • Water / metabolism*


  • Culture Media
  • Hypertonic Solutions
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Water
  • Sorbitol
  • AIF1 protein, S cerevisiae
  • NADH, NADPH Oxidoreductases
  • Caspases
  • MCA1 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Glucose