Sequence of occurring damages in yeast plasma membrane during dehydration and rehydration: Mechanisms of cell death

Abstract : Yeasts are often exposed to variations in osmotic pressure in their natural environments or in their substrates when used in fermentation industries. Such changes may lead to cell death or activity loss. Although the involvement of the plasma membrane is strongly suspected, the mechanism remains unclear. Here, the integrity and functionality of the yeast plasma membrane at different levels of dehydration and rehydration during an osmotic treatment were assessed using various fluorescent dyes. Flow cytometry and confocal microscopy of cells stained with oxonol, propidium iodide, and lucifer yellow were used to study changes in membrane polarization, permeabilization, and endocytosis, respectively. Cell volume contraction, reversible depolarization, permeabilization, and endovesicle formation were successively observed with increasing levels of osmotic pressure during dehydration. The maximum survival rate was also detected at a specific rehydration level, of 20 MPa, above which cells were strongly permeabilized. Thus, we show that the two steps of an osmotic treatment, dehydration and rehydration, are both involved in the induction of cell death. Permeabilization of the plasma membranes is the critical event related to cell death. It may result from lipidic phase transitions in the membrane and from variations in the area-to-volume ratio during the osmotic treatment.
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Hélène Simonin, Laurent Beney, Patrick Gervais. Sequence of occurring damages in yeast plasma membrane during dehydration and rehydration: Mechanisms of cell death. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta:Biomembranes, Elsevier, 2007, 1768 (6), pp.1600-1610. ⟨10.1016/j.bbamem.2007.03.017⟩. ⟨hal-02291880⟩

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