PLoS genetics

Down-regulating sphingolipid synthesis increases yeast lifespan.

PMID 22319457


Knowledge of the mechanisms for regulating lifespan is advancing rapidly, but lifespan is a complex phenotype and new features are likely to be identified. Here we reveal a novel approach for regulating lifespan. Using a genetic or a pharmacological strategy to lower the rate of sphingolipid synthesis, we show that Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells live longer. The longer lifespan is due in part to a reduction in Sch9 protein kinase activity and a consequent reduction in chromosomal mutations and rearrangements and increased stress resistance. Longer lifespan also arises in ways that are independent of Sch9 or caloric restriction, and we speculate on ways that sphingolipids might mediate these aspects of increased lifespan. Sch9 and its mammalian homolog S6 kinase work downstream of the target of rapamycin, TOR1, protein kinase, and play evolutionarily conserved roles in regulating lifespan. Our data establish Sch9 as a focal point for regulating lifespan by integrating nutrient signals from TOR1 with growth and stress signals from sphingolipids. Sphingolipids are found in all eukaryotes and our results suggest that pharmacological down-regulation of one or more sphingolipids may provide a means to reduce age-related diseases and increase lifespan in other eukaryotes.