Aging yeast cells undergo a sharp entry into senescence unrelated to the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential

Cell Rep. 2013 Dec 26;5(6):1589-99. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.11.013. Epub 2013 Dec 12.


In budding yeast, a mother cell can produce a finite number of daughter cells before it stops dividing and dies. Such entry into senescence is thought to result from a progressive decline in physiological function, including a loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨ). Here, we developed a microfluidic device to monitor the dynamics of cell division and ΔΨ in real time at single-cell resolution. We show that cells do not enter senescence gradually but rather undergo an abrupt transition to a slowly dividing state. Moreover, we demonstrate that the decline in ΔΨ, which is observed only in a fraction of cells, is not responsible for entry into senescence. Rather, the loss of ΔΨ is an age-independent and heritable process that leads to clonal senescence and is therefore incompatible with daughter cell rejuvenation. These results emphasize the importance of quantitative single-cell measurements to decipher the causes of cellular aging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Proliferation
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial*
  • Microfluidics / methods
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / growth & development*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / physiology