Autophagy, a highly conserved proteolytic mechanism of quality control, is essential for the maintenance of metabolic and cellular homoeostasis and for an efficient cellular response to stress. Autophagy declines with aging and is believed to contribute to different aspects of the aging phenotype. The nutrient-sensing pathways PKA (protein kinase A), Sch9 and TOR (target of rapamycin), involved in the regulation of yeast lifespan, also converge on a common targeted process: autophagy. The molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of autophagy and aging by these signalling pathways in yeast, with special attention to the TOR pathway, are discussed in the present paper. The question of whether or not autophagy could contribute to yeast cell death occurring during CLS (chronological lifespan) is discussed in the light of our findings obtained after autophagy activation promoted by proteotoxic stress. Autophagy progressively increases in cells expressing the aggregation-prone protein α-synuclein and seems to participate in the early cell death and shortening of CLS under these conditions, highlighting that autophagic activity should be maintained below physiological levels to exert its promising anti-aging effects.

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