Table of contents

Volume 3, Issue 12, pp. 579 - 631, December 2016

Issue cover
Cover: Electron micrograph of Saccharomyces cerevisiae 20 days after treatment with the autophagy inductor spermidine (image by Dr. Birthe Fahrenkrog, Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium); image modified by MIC. The cover is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. Enlarge issue cover


Autophagy: one more Nobel Prize for yeast

Andreas Zimmermann, Katharina Kainz, Aleksandra Andryushkova, Sebastian Hofer, Frank Madeo, Didac Carmona-Gutierrez

page 579-581 | 10.15698/mic2016.12.544 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

The recent announcement of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi for the discoveries of mechanisms governing autophagy, underscores the importance of intracellular degradation and recycling. At the same time, it further cements yeast, in which this field decisively developed, as a prolific model organism. Here we provide a quick historical overview that mirrors both the importance of autophagy as a conserved and essential process for cellular life and death as well as the crucial role of yeast in its mechanistic characterization.


Physiology, phylogeny, and LUCA

William F. Martin, Madeline C. Weiss, Sinje Neukirchen, Shijulal Nelson-Sathi, Filipa L. Sousa

page 582-587 | 10.15698/mic2016.12.545 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

Genomes record their own history. But if we want to look all the way back to life’s beginnings some 4 billion years ago, the record of microbial evolution that is preserved in prokaryotic genomes is not easy to read. Microbiology has a lot in common with geology in that regard. Geologists know that plate tectonics and erosion have erased much of the geological record, with ancient rocks being truly rare. The same is true of microbes. Lateral gene transfer (LGT) and sequence divergence have erased much of the evolutionary record that was once written in genomes, and it is not obvious which genes among sequenced genomes are genuinely ancient. Which genes trace to the last universal ancestor, LUCA? The classical approach has been to look for genes that are universally distributed. Another approach is to make all trees for all genes, and sift out the trees where signals have been overwritten by LGT. What is left ought to be ancient. If we do that, what do we find?


Autophagy: machinery and regulation

Zhangyuan Yin, Clarence Pascual, Daniel J. Klionsky

page 588-596 | 10.15698/mic2016.12.546 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

Macroautophagy/autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved cellular degradation process that targets cytoplasmic materials including cytosol, macromolecules and unwanted organelles. The discovery and analysis of autophagy-related (Atg) proteins have unveiled much of the machinery of autophagosome formation. Although initially autophagy was regarded as a survival response to stress, recent studies have revealed its significance in cellular and organismal homeostasis, development and immunity. Autophagic dysfunction and dysregulation are implicated in various diseases. In this review, we briefly summarize the physiological roles, molecular mechanism, regulatory network, and pathophysiological roles of autophagy.

Research Articles

Bax mitochondrial relocation is linked to its phosphorylation and its interaction with Bcl-xL

David Garenne, Thibaud T. Renault, Stéphen Manon

page 597-605 | 10.15698/mic2016.12.547 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

The heterologous expression of Bax, and other Bcl-2 family members, in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, has proved to be a valuable reporter system to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying their interaction with mitochondria. By combining the co-expression of Bax and Bcl-xL mutants with analyzes of their localization and interaction in mitochondria and post-mitochondrial supernatants, we showed that the ability of Bax and Bcl-xL to interact is dependent both on Bax phosphorylation – mimicked by a substitution S184D – and by Bax and Bcl-xL localization. This, and previous data, provide the molecular basis for a model of dynamic equilibrium for Bax localization and activation, regulated both by phosphorylation and Bcl-xL.

Impact of histone H4K16 acetylation on the meiotic recombination checkpoint in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Santiago Cavero, Esther Herruzo, David Ontoso and Pedro A. San-Segundo

page 606-620 | 10.15698/mic2016.12.548 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

In meiotic cells, the pachytene checkpoint or meiotic recombination checkpoint is a surveillance mechanism that monitors critical processes, such as recombination and chromosome synapsis, which are essential for proper distribution of chromosomes to the meiotic progeny. Failures in these processes lead to the formation of aneuploid gametes. Meiotic recombination occurs in the context of chromatin; in fact, the histone methyltransferase Dot1 and the histone deacetylase Sir2 are known regulators of the pachytene checkpoint in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We report here that Sas2-mediated acetylation of histone H4 at lysine 16 (H4K16ac), one of the Sir2 targets, modulates meiotic checkpoint activity in response to synaptonemal complex defects. We show that, like sir2, the H4-K16Q mutation, mimicking constitutive acetylation of H4K16, eliminates the delay in meiotic cell cycle progression imposed by the checkpoint in the synapsis-defective zip1 mutant. We also demonstrate that, like in dot1, zip1-induced phosphorylation of the Hop1 checkpoint adaptor at threonine 318 and the ensuing Mek1 activation are impaired in H4-K16 mutants. However, in contrast to sir2 and dot1, the H4-K16R and H4-K16Q mutations have only a minor effect in checkpoint activation and localization of the nucleolar Pch2 checkpoint factor in ndt80-prophase-arrested cells. We also provide evidence for a cross-talk between Dot1-dependent H3K79 methylation and H4K16ac and show that Sir2 excludes H4K16ac from the rDNA region on meiotic chromosomes. Our results reveal that proper levels of H4K16ac orchestrate this meiotic quality control mechanism and that Sir2 impinges on additional targets to fully activate the checkpoint.

Research Reports

The transcription factors ADR1 or CAT8 are required for RTG pathway activation and evasion from yeast acetic acid-induced programmed cell death in raffinose

Luna Laera, Nicoletta Guaragnella, Maša Ždralević, Domenico Marzulli, Zhengchang Liu, Sergio Giannattasio

page 621-631 | 10.15698/mic2016.12.549 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae grown on glucose undergoes programmed cell death (PCD) induced by acetic acid (AA-PCD), but evades PCD when grown in raffinose. This is due to concomitant relief of carbon catabolite repression (CCR) and activation of mitochondrial retrograde signaling, a mitochondria-to-nucleus communication pathway causing up-regulation of various nuclear target genes, such as CIT2, encoding peroxisomal citrate synthase, dependent on the positive regulator RTG2 in response to mitochondrial dysfunction. CCR down-regulates genes mainly involved in mitochondrial respiratory metabolism. In this work, we investigated the relationships between the RTG and CCR pathways in the modulation of AA-PCD sensitivity under glucose repression or de-repression conditions. Yeast single and double mutants lacking RTG2 and/or certain factors regulating carbon source utilization, including MIG1, HXK2, ADR1, CAT8, and HAP4, have been analyzed for their survival and CIT2 expression after acetic acid treatment. ADR1 and CAT8 were identified as positive regulators of RTG-dependent gene transcription. ADR1 and CAT8 interact with RTG2 and with each other in inducing cell resistance to AA-PCD in raffinose and controlling the nature of cell death. In the absence of ADR1 and CAT8, AA-PCD evasion is acquired through activation of an alternative factor/pathway repressed by RTG2, suggesting that RTG2 may play a function in promoting necrotic cell death in repressing conditions when RTG pathway is inactive. Moreover, our data show that simultaneous mitochondrial retrograde pathway activation and SNF1-dependent relief of CCR have a key role in central carbon metabolism reprogramming which modulates the yeast acetic acid-stress response.