A mutation in the ATP2 gene abrogates the age asymmetry between mother and daughter cells of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Chi Yung Lai, Ewa Jaruga, Corina Borghouts, S. Michal Jazwinski

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134 Citations (Scopus)


The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae reproduces by asymmetric cell division, or budding. In each cell division, the daughter cell is usually smaller and younger than the mother cell, as defined by the number of divisions it can potentially complete before it dies. Although individual yeast cells have a limited life span, this age asymmetry between mother and daughter ensures that the yeast strain remains immortal. To understand the mechanisms underlying age asymmetry, we have isolated temperature-sensitive mutants that have limited growth capacity. One of these clonal-senescence mutants was in ATP2, the gene encoding the β-subunit of mitochondrial F1, F0-ATPase. A point mutation in this gene caused a valine-to-isoleucine substitution at the ninetieth amino acid of the mature polypeptide. This mutation did not affect the growth rate on a nonfermentable carbon source. Life-span determinations following temperature shift-down showed that the clonal-senescence phenotype results from a loss of age asymmetry at 36°, such that daughters are born old. It was characterized by a loss of mitochondrial membrane potential followed by the lack of proper segregation of active mitochondria to daughter cells. This was associated with a change in mitochondrial morphology and distribution in the mother cell and ultimately resulted in the generation of cells totally lacking mitochondria. The results indicate that segregation of active mitochondria to daughter cells is important for maintenance of age asymmetry and raise the possibility that mitochondrial dysfunction may be a normal cause of aging. The finding that dysfunctional mitochondria accumulated in yeasts as they aged and the propensity for old mother cells to produce daughters depleted of active mitochondria lend support to this notion. We propose, more generally, that age asymmetry depends on partition of active and undamaged cellular components to the progeny and that this "filter" breaks down with age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-87
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Sep 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics

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