Overexpression of Autophagy-Related Genes Inhibits Yeast Filamentous Growth

 Abstract

Under conditions of nitrogen stress, the budding yeast S. cerevisiae initiates a cellular response involving the activation of autophagy, an intracellular catabolic process for the degradation and recycling of proteins and organelles. In certain strains of yeast, nitrogen stress also drives a striking developmental transition to a filamentous form of growth, in which cells remain physically connected after cytokinesis. We recently identified an interrelationship between these processes, with the inhibition of autophagy resulting in exaggerated filamentous growth. Our results suggest a model wherein autophagy mitigates nutrient stress, and filamentous growth is responsive to the degree of this stress. Here, we extended these studies to encompass a phenotypic analysis of filamentous growth upon overexpression of autophagy-related (ATG) genes. Specifically, overexpression of ATG1, ATG3, ATG7, ATG17, ATG19, ATG23, ATG24, and ATG29 inhibited filamentous growth. From our understanding of autophagy in yeast, overexpression of these genes does not markedly affect the activity of the pathway; thus, we do not expect that this filamentous growth phenotype is due strictly to diminished nitrogen stress in ATG overexpression mutants. Rather, these results highlight an additional undefined regulatory mechanism linking autophagy and filamentous growth, possibly independent of the upstream nitrogen-sensing machinery feeding into both processes.

Addendum to:
An Interrelationship Between Autophagy and Filamentous Growth in Budding Yeast
J. Ma, R. Jin, X. Jia, C.J. Dobry, L. Wang, F. Reggiori, J. Zhu and A. Kumar
Genetics 2007; In press

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Overexpression of Autophagy-Related Genes Inhibits Yeast Filamentous Growth