Stationary-phase cultures have been used as an important model of aging, a complex process involving multiple pathways and signaling networks. However, the molecular processes underlying stress response of non-dividing cells are poorly understood, although deteriorated stress response is one of the hallmarks of aging. The budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a valuable model organism to study the genetics of aging, because yeast ages within days and are amenable to genetic manipulations. As a unicellular organism, yeast has evolved robust systems to respond to environmental challenges. This response is orchestrated largely by the conserved transcription factor Hsf1, which in S. cerevisiae regulates expression of multiple genes in response to diverse stresses. Here we demonstrate that Hsf1 response to heat shock and oxidative stress deteriorates during yeast transition from exponential growth to stationary-phase, whereas Hsf1 activation by glucose starvation is maintained. Overexpressing Hsf1 does not significantly improve heat shock response, indicating that Hsf1 dwindling is not the major cause for Hsf1 attenuated response in stationary-phase yeast. Rather, factors that participate in Hsf1 activation appear to be compromised. We uncover two factors, Yap1 and Sir2, which discretely function in Hsf1 activation by oxidative stress and heat shock. In ?yap1 mutant, Hsf1 does not respond to oxidative stress, while in ?sir2 mutant, Hsf1 does not respond to heat shock. Moreover, excess Sir2 mimics the heat shock response. This role of the NAD+-dependent Sir2 is supported by our finding that supplementing NAD+ precursors improves Hsf1 heat shock response in stationary-phase yeast, especially when combined with expression of excess Sir2. Finally, the combination of excess Hsf1, excess Sir2 and NAD+ precursors rejuvenates the heat shock response.
Aging-related neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinsons, Alzheimers and Huntingtons diseases, are characterized by accumulation of protein aggregates in distinct neuronal cells that eventually die. In Huntingtons disease, the protein huntingtin forms aggregates, and the age of disease onset is inversely correlated to the length of the proteins poly-glutamine tract. Using quantitative assays to estimate microscopically and capture biochemically protein aggregates, here we study in Saccharomyces cerevisiae aging-related aggregation of GFP-tagged, huntingtin-derived proteins with different polyQ lengths. We find that the short 25Q protein never aggregates whereas the long 103Q version always aggregates. However, the mid-size 47Q protein is soluble in young logarithmically growing yeast but aggregates as the yeast cells enter the stationary phase and age, allowing us to plot an "aggregation timeline". This aging-dependent aggregation was associated with increased cytotoxicity. We also show that two aging-related genes, SIR2 and HSF1, affect aggregation of the polyQ proteins. In ?sir2 strain the aging-dependent aggregation of the 47Q protein is aggravated, while overexpression of the transcription factor Hsf1 attenuates aggregation. Thus, the mid-size 47Q protein and our quantitative aggregation assays provide valuable tools to unravel the roles of genes and environmental conditions that affect aging-related aggregation.
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