Background: Recent studies suggest that the regulation of longevity may be partially conserved in many eukaryotes ranging from yeast to mammals. The three yeast mutants sch9Delta, ras2Delta, tor1Delta show extended chronological life span up to three folds. Our aim is to dissect the mechanisms that lead to the yeast life span extension.
Methodology/principal findings: We obtain gene expression profiles of sch9Delta, ras2Delta, tor1Delta as well as that for a wild type at day 2.5 in SDC medium using Affymetrix Yeast2.0 arrays. To accurately estimate the expression differentiation between the wild type and the long-lived mutants, we use sub-array normalization followed by a variant of the median-polishing summarization. The results are validated by the probe sets of S. pombe on the same chips. To translate the differentiation into changes of biological activities, we make statistical inference by integrating the expression profiles with biological gene subsets defined by Gene Ontology, KEGG pathways, and cellular localization of proteins. Other than subset-versus-other comparisons, we also make local comparisons between two directly-related gene subsets such as cytosolic and mitochondrial ribosomes. Our consensus is obtained by cross-examination of these inferences. The significant and systematic differentiation in the three long-lived strains includes: lower transcriptional activities; down-regulation of TCA cycle and oxidative phosphorylation versus up-regulation of the KEGG pathway Glycolysis/Gluconeogenesis; the overall reduction of mitochondrial activities. We also report some different expression patterns such as reduction of the activities relating to mitosis in ras2Delta.
Conclusions/significance: The modification of energy pathways and modification of compartment activities such as down-regulation of mitochondrial ribosome proteins versus up-regulation of cytosolic ribosome proteins are directly associated with the life span extension in yeast. The results provide a new and systematic S. cerevisiae version of the free radical theory from the perspective of functional genomics.