Programmed nuclear destruction in yeast: self-eating by vacuolar lysis

Autophagy. 2013 Feb 1;9(2):263-5. doi: 10.4161/auto.22881. Epub 2012 Nov 27.


Studies of the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae have provided many of the most important insights into the mechanisms of autophagy, which are common to all eukaryotes. However, investigation of yeast self-destruction pathways, including autophagy and programmed cell death, has been almost exclusively restricted to cells undergoing vegetative growth, leaving very little exploration of their functions during developmental transitions in the yeast life cycle. We have recently discovered that whole nuclei are subject to programmed destruction during yeast gametogenesis. Programmed nuclear destruction (PND) possesses characteristics of apoptosis in the form of DNA cleavage by endonuclease G, and involves bulk protein turnover through an unusual autophagic pathway involving lysis of the vacuole rather than delivery of components to it through macroautophagy. We thus illuminate an example of developmentally programmed cellular "self-eating" in yeast, which is associated with the rupture of a lytic organelle, reminiscent of programmed cell death mechanisms in plants and animals.

Keywords: endonuclease G; gametogenesis; nucleus; sporulation; vacuole; yeast.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / cytology*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / ultrastructure
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism
  • Spores, Fungal / cytology
  • Spores, Fungal / ultrastructure
  • Vacuoles / metabolism*


  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins