Table of contents

Volume 2, Issue 3, pp. 62 - 93, March 2015

Issue cover
Cover: The picture shows a cross-section of Neurospora crassa hyphae observed by transmission electron microscopy. Image acquired by Arnaldo Videira and Alexandre Lobo da Cunha (University of Porto, Portugal); modified by MIC. The cover is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. Enlarge issue cover


Live fast, die soon: cell cycle progression and lifespan in yeast cells

Javier Jiménez, Samuel Bru, Mariana PC Ribeiro and Josep Clotet

page 62-67 | 10.15698/mic2015.03.191 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

Our understanding of lifespan has benefited enormously from the study of a simple model, the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Although a unicellular organism, yeasts undergo many of the processes directly related with aging that to some extent are conserved in mammalian cells. Nutrient-limiting conditions have been involved in lifespan extension, especially in the case of caloric restriction, which also has a direct impact on cell cycle progression. In fact, other environmental stresses (osmotic, oxidative) that interfere with normal cell cycle progression also influence the lifespan of cells, indicating a relationship between lifespan and cell cycle control. In the present review we compile and discuss new findings related to how cell cycle progression is regulated by other nutrients. We centred this review on the analysis of phosphate, also give some attention to nitrogen, and the impact of these nutrients on lifespan.

Mitochondrial type II NAD(P)H dehydrogenases in fungal cell death

Pedro Gonçalves, Arnaldo Videira

page 68-73 | 10.15698/mic2015.03.192 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

During aerobic respiration, cells produce energy through oxidative phosphorylation, which includes a specialized group of multi-subunit complexes in the inner mitochondrial membrane known as the electron transport chain. However, this canonical pathway is branched into single polypeptide alternative routes in some fungi, plants, protists and bacteria. They confer metabolic plasticity, allowing cells to adapt to different environmental conditions and stresses. Type II NAD(P)H dehydrogenases (also called alternative NAD(P)H dehydrogenases) are non-proton pumping enzymes that bypass complex I. Recent evidence points to the involvement of fungal alternative NAD(P)H dehydrogenases in the process of programmed cell death, in addition to their action as overflow systems upon oxidative stress. Consistent with this, alternative NAD(P)H dehydrogenases are phylogenetically related to cell death – promoting proteins of the apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF)-family.

Yeast as a tool for studying proteins of the Bcl-2 family

Peter Polčic, Petra Jaká and Marek Mentel

page 74-87 | 10.15698/mic2015.03.193 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

Permeabilization of the outer mitochondrial membrane that leads to the release of cytochrome c and several other apoptogenic proteins from mitochondria into cytosol represents a commitment point of apoptotic pathway in mammalian cells. This crucial event is governed by proteins of the Bcl-2 family. Molecular mechanisms, by which Bcl-2 family proteins permeabilize mitochondrial membrane, remain under dispute. Although yeast does not have apparent homologues of these proteins, when mammalian members of Bcl-2 family are expressed in yeast, they retain their activity, making yeast an attractive model system, in which to study their action. This review focuses on using yeast expressing mammalian proteins of the Bcl-2 family as a tool to investigate mechanisms, by which these proteins permeabilize mitochondrial membranes, mechanisms, by which pro- and antiapoptotic members of this family interact, and involvement of other cellular components in the regulation of programmed cell death by Bcl-2 family proteins.


Characterization of the Maf family of polymorphic toxins in pathogenic Neisseria species

Anne Jamet, Xavier Nassif

page 88-90 | 10.15698/mic2015.03.194 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

In addition to harmless commensal species, Neisseria genus encompasses two pathogenic species, N. meningitidis (the meningococcus) and N. gonorrhoeae (the gonococcus), which are responsible for meningitis and genital tract infections, respectively. Since the publication of the first Neisseria genome in 2000, the presence of several genomic islands (GI) comprising maf genes has been intriguing. These GIs account for approximately 2% of the genome of the pathogenic Neisseria species and the function of the proteins encoded by maf genes remained unknown. We showed that maf genes encode a functional toxin-immunity system where MafB is a toxin neutralized by an immunity protein named MafI. A strain can harbor several MafB/MafI modules with distinct toxic activities. MafB toxins are polymorphic toxins with a conserved N-terminal region and a variable C-terminal region. MafB N-terminal regions consist of a signal peptide and a domain named DUF1020 that is only found in the genus Neisseria. MafB C-terminal regions are highly polymorphic and encode toxic activities. We evidenced the presence of MafB in the culture supernatant of meningococcal cells and we observed a competitive advantage for a strain overexpressing a MafB toxin. Therefore, we characterized a highly variable family of toxin-immunity modules found in multiple loci in pathogenic Neisseria species.

New roles for autophagy and spermidine in T cells

D. J. Puleston and A. K. Simon

page 91-93 | 10.15698/mic2015.03.195 | Full text | PDF | Abstract

The conserved lysosomal degradation pathway autophagy is now recognised as an essential cog in immune function. While functionally widespread in the innate immune system, knowledge of its roles in adaptive immunity is more limited. Although autophagy has been implicated in naïve T cell homeostasis, its requirement in antigen-specific T cells during infection was unknown. Using a murine model where the essential autophagy gene Atg7 is deleted in the T cell lineage, we have shown that autophagy is dispensable for effector CD8+ T cell responses, but crucial for the formation of memory CD8+ T cells. Here, we suggest reasons why autophagy might be important for the formation of long-lasting immunity. Like in the absence of autophagy, T cell memory formation during ageing is also defective. We observed diminished autophagy levels in T cells from aged mice, linking autophagy to immunosenescence. Importantly, T cell responses to influenza vaccination could be significantly improved using the autophagy-inducing compound spermidine. These results suggest the autophagy pathway as a desirable target to improve aged immunity and modulate T cell function.