The goal of the aging field is to develop novel therapeutic interventions that extend human health span and reduce the burden of age-related disease. While organismal aging is a complex, multifactorial process, a popular theory is that cellular aging is a significant contributor to the progressive decline inherent to all multicellular organisms. To explore the molecular determinants that drive cellular aging, as well as how to retard them, researchers have utilized the highly genetically tractable budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Indeed, every intervention known to extend both cellular and organismal health span was identified in yeast, underlining the power of this approach. Importantly, a growing body of work has implicated the process of autophagy as playing a critical role in the delay of aging. This review summarizes recent reports that have identified a role for autophagy, or autophagy factors in the extension of yeast life span. These studies demonstrate (1) that yeast remains an invaluable tool for the identification and characterization of conserved mechanisms that promote cellular longevity and are likely to be relevant to humans, and (2) that the process of autophagy has been implicated in nearly all known longevity-promoting manipulations and thus represents an ideal target for interventions aimed at improving human health span.
Keywords: Saccharomyces cerevisiae; aging; autophagy; budding yeast; health span; life span.
© 2018 New York Academy of Sciences.