Leucine depletion extends the lifespans of leucine-auxotrophic fission yeast by inducing Ecl1 family genes via the transcription factor Fil1

Mol Genet Genomics. 2019 Dec;294(6):1499-1509. doi: 10.1007/s00438-019-01592-6. Epub 2019 Aug 27.


Many studies show that lifespans of various model organisms can be extended by limiting the quantities of nutrients that are necessary for proliferation. In Schizosaccharomyces pombe, the Ecl1 family genes have been associated with lifespan control and are necessary for cell responses to nutrient depletion, but their functions and mechanisms of action remain uncharacterized. Herein, we show that leucine depletion extends the chronological lifespan (CLS) of leucine-auxotrophic cells. Furthermore, depletion of leucine extended CLS and caused cell miniaturization and cell cycle arrest at the G1 phase, and all of these processes depended on Ecl1 family genes. Although depletion of leucine raises the expression of ecl1+ by about 100-fold in leucine-auxotrophic cells, these conditions did not affect ecl1+ expression in leucine-auxotrophic fil1 mutants that were isolated in deletion set screens using 79 mutants disrupting a transcription factor. Fil1 is a GATA-type zinc finger transcription factor that reportedly binds directly to the upstream regions of ecl1+ and ecl2+. Accordingly, we suggest that Ecl1 family genes are induced in response to environmental stresses, such as oxidative stress and heat stress, or by nutritional depletion of nitrogen or sulfur sources or the amino acid leucine. We also propose that these genes play important roles in the maintenance of cell survival until conditions that favor proliferation are restored.

Keywords: Chronological lifespan; Ecl1 family gene; Fission yeast; Leucine; ecl1 +; fil1 +.

MeSH terms

  • G1 Phase Cell Cycle Checkpoints
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal / physiology*
  • Leucine / physiology*
  • Multigene Family
  • Nitrogen / physiology
  • Nuclear Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Schizosaccharomyces / cytology
  • Schizosaccharomyces / genetics
  • Schizosaccharomyces / metabolism
  • Schizosaccharomyces / physiology*
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins / genetics
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*


  • Ecl1 protein, S pombe
  • Ecl2 protein, S pombe
  • Ecl3 protein, S pombe
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Leucine
  • Nitrogen