Organisms have evolved diverse means to protect themselves from oxidative stress. To better understand the molecular mechanisms involved in oxidative stress resistance, we screened fission yeast mutants sensitive to paraquat, a reagent acting on the mitochondria to generate reactive oxygen species. Among the mutants we isolated, we focused on a mutant defective in the vps1(+) (vacuolar protein sorting 1) gene that encodes a dynamin-related protein family member. vps1Δ exhibited aberrant mitochondrial and vacuolar morphology on treatment with paraquat. vps1Δ was sensitive to osmotic stress, high concentrations of Ca(2+) and Fe(2+). Interestingly, the deletion of atg8(+), a gene essential for the autophagy pathway, exhibited strong genetic interactions with vps1Δ. The vps1Δatg8Δ double mutant was additively sensitive to oxidative stress, osmotic stress and Ca(2+). The deletion of vps1(+) rescued the bizarre vacuolar morphology shown by atg8Δ. Such genetic interactions were not observed with other atg mutants. Furthermore, the atg8-G116A mutant did not show abnormal vacuolar morphology while being sensitive to nitrogen starvation, an autophagy-related phenotype. Taken together, we conclude that atg8(+) regulates vacuolar functions independently of its role in autophagy. We propose that Vps1 and Atg8 cooperatively participate in vacuolar function, thereby contributing to oxidative stress resistance.
© 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 by the Molecular Biology Society of Japan/Blackwell Publishing Ltd.