Mammalian Bax triggers apoptotic changes in yeast

FEBS Lett. 1998 Oct 30;438(1-2):61-5. doi: 10.1016/s0014-5793(98)01227-7.


Apoptosis is co-regulated by the conserved family of Bcl-2-related proteins, which includes both its agonists (Bax) and antagonists (Bcl-X(L)). A mutant strain of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has been shown to express all morphological signs of apoptosis. Overexpression of Bax is lethal in S. cerevisiae, whereas simultaneous overexpression of Bcl-X(L) rescues the cells. We report that overexpression of mammalian Bax in a S. cerevisiae wild type strain triggers morphological changes similar to those of apoptotic metazoan cells: the loss of asymmetric distribution of plasma membrane phosphatidylserine, plasma membrane blebbing, chromatin condensation and margination, and DNA fragmentation. Simultaneous overexpression of Bcl-X(L) prevents these changes. We demonstrate that Bax triggers phenotypic alterations in yeast strongly resembling those it causes in metazoan apoptotic cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis*
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • DNA Fragmentation
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Indoles
  • Mammals / genetics
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Phosphatidylserines / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / physiology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / cytology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism*
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • bcl-X Protein


  • Chromatin
  • Indoles
  • Phosphatidylserines
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • bcl-X Protein
  • DAPI