Unusual Model Systems for Cell Death Research


, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 257-268

First online:

Necrosis in yeast

  • Tobias EisenbergAffiliated withInstitute of Molecular Biosciences, University of Graz
  • , Didac Carmona-GutierrezAffiliated withInstitute of Molecular Biosciences, University of Graz
  • , Sabrina BüttnerAffiliated withInstitute of Molecular Biosciences, University of Graz
  • , Nektarios TavernarakisAffiliated withInstitute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas
  • , Frank MadeoAffiliated withInstitute of Molecular Biosciences, University of Graz Email author 

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Necrosis was long regarded as an accidental cell death process resulting from overwhelming cellular injury such as chemical or physical disruption of the plasma membrane. Such a definition, however, proved to be inapplicable to many necrotic scenarios. The discovery that genetic manipulation of several proteins either protected or enhanced necrotic cell death argued in favor of a regulated and hence programmed process, as it is the case for apoptosis. For more than a decade, yeast has served as a model for apoptosis research; recently, evidence accumulated that it also harbors a necrotic program. Here, we summarize the current knowledge about factors that control necrotic cell death in yeast. Mitochondria, aging and a low pH are positive regulators of this process while cellular polyamines (e.g. spermidine) and endonuclease G as well as homeostatic organelles like the vacuole or peroxisomes are potent inhibitors of necrosis. Physiological necrosis may stimulate intercellular signaling via the release of necrotic factors that promote viability of healthy cells and, thus, assure survival of the clone. Together, the data obtained in yeast argue for the existence of a necrotic program, which controls longevity and whose physiological function may thus be aging.


Necrosis Yeast programmed cell death Yeast PCD Programmed necrosis Mitochondria Spermidine Aging