Summary We have previously shown that acetic acid activates a mitochondria-dependent death process in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and that the ADP/ATP carrier (AAC) is required for mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization and cytochrome c release. Mitochondrial fragmentation and degradation have also been shown in response to this death stimulus. Herein, we show that autophagy is not active in cells undergoing acetic acid-induced apoptosis and is therefore not responsible for mitochondrial degradation. Furthermore, we found that the vacuolar protease Pep4p and AAC proteins have a role in mitochondrial degradation using yeast genetic approaches. Depletion and overexpression of Pep4p, an orthologue of human cathepsin D, delays and enhances mitochondrial degradation, respectively. Moreover, Pep4p is released from the vacuole into the cytosol in response to acetic acid treatment. AAC-deleted cells also show a decrease in mitochondrial degradation in response to acetic acid and are not defective in Pep4p release. Therefore, AAC proteins seem to affect mitochondrial degradation at a step subsequent to Pep4p release, possibly triggering degradation through their involvement in mitochondrial permeabilization. The finding that both mitochondrial AAC proteins and the vacuolar Pep4p interfere with mitochondrial degradation suggests a complex regulation and interplay between mitochondria and the vacuole in yeast programmed cell death.
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