Since the discovery of the apoptotic pathway in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, several compounds have been shown to cause apoptosis in this organism. While the toxicity of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) peroxides towards S. cerevisiae has been known for a long time, studies on the effect of nonoxidized PUFA are scarce. The present study deals specifically with linoleic acid (LA) in its nonoxidized form and investigates its toxicity to yeast. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is unable to synthesize PUFA, but can take up and incorporate them into its membranes. Reports from the literature indicate that LA is not toxic to yeast cells. However, we demonstrated that yeast cell growth decreased in cultures treated with 0.1 mM LA for 4 h, and 3-(4,5 dimethyl-2-thiazolyl)-2,5-diphenyl-2H-tetrazolium bromide reduction (a measure of respiratory activity) decreased by 47%. This toxicity was dependent on the number of cells used in the experiment. We show apoptosis induction by LA concomitant with increases in malondialdehyde, glutathione content, activities of catalase and cytochrome c peroxidase, and decreases in two metabolic enzyme activities. While the main purpose of this study was to show that LA causes cell death in yeast, our results indicate some of the molecular mechanisms of the cell toxicity of PUFA.
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