Tributyltin chloride (TBT), an environmental pollutant, is toxic to a variety of eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. Although it has been reported that TBT induces apoptotic cell death in mammalian, the action of TBT on eukaryotic microorganisms has not yet been fully investigated. In this study we examined the mechanism involved in cell death caused by TBT exposure in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The median lethal concentration of TBT was 10 microM for the parent strain BY4741 and 3 microM for the pdr5Delta mutant defective in a major multidrug transporter, respectively. Fluorescence microscopic observations revealed nuclear condensation and chromatin fragmentation in cells treated with TBT indicating that cells underwent an apoptosis-like cell dearth. TBT-induced cell death was suppressed by deletion of the yca1 gene encoding a homologue of the mammalian caspase. In parallel, reactive oxygen species (ROS) were produced by TBT. These results suggest that TBT induces apoptosis-like cell death in yeast via an Yca1p-dependent pathway possibly downstream of the ROS production. This is the first report on TBT-induced apoptotic cell death in yeast.
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