Overexpressed Sod1p acts either to reduce or to increase the lifespans and stress resistance of yeast, depending on whether it is Cu2+-deficient or an active Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase
Yeast overexpressing SOD1, the gene for Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase (Cu,Zn-Sod), was used to determine how Sod1p overexpression influences the chronological lifespan [the survival of non-dividing stationary (G0) phase cells over time], the replicative lifespan (the number of buds produced by actively dividing yeast cells) and stress resistance. Increasing the level of active Cu,Zn-Sod in yeast was found to require either growth in the presence of high copper, or the simultaneous overexpression of both SOD1 and CCS1 (the latter being the gene that encodes the chaperone dedicated to Cu2+-loading of Sod1p in vivo). Dual SOD1 + CCS1 overexpression elevated the levels of Cu,Zn-Sod activity six- to eight-fold in vegetative cultures. It also increased the optimized survival of stationary cells up to two-fold, showing this chronological lifespan is ultimately limited by oxidative stress. In contrast, several detrimental effects resulted when the SOD1 gene was overexpressed in the absence of either high copper or a simultaneous overexpression of CCS1. Both the chronological and the replicative lifespans were shortened; the cells displayed an abnormally high level of endogenous oxidative stress, resulting in a high rate of spontaneous mutation. Such harmful effects were all reversed through the overexpression of CCS1. It is apparent therefore that they relate to the incomplete Cu2+-loading of the overexpressed Sod1p, most probably accumulation of a Cu2+-deficient Sod1p to appreciable levels in vivo. The same events may generate the detrimental effects that are frequently, though not universally, observed when Cu,Zn-Sod overexpression is attempted in metazoans.