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REVIEW: Role of Dead Cells in Collective Stress Tolerance in Microbial Communities: Evidence from Yeast

Nataliia Kireeva1,2,a#, Kseniia Galkina1,b#, Sviatoslav Sokolov1,c, and Dmitry Knorre1,d*

1Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia

2Faculty of Bioengineering and Bioinformatics, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

# These authors contributed equally to this study.

Received October 3, 2022; Revised October 8, 2022; Accepted October 8, 2022
A substantial part of yeast life cycle takes place in the communities where the cells are surrounded by their own clones. Meanwhile, yeast cell fitness depends not only on its own adaptations but also on the processes in the neighboring cells. Moreover, even if a cell loses its clonogenic ability, it is still capable of protecting surrounding cells that are still alive. Dead cells can absorb lipophilic antibiotics and provide nutrients to their kin neighbors. Some enzymes can be released into the environment and detoxify exogenous toxins. For example, cytosolic catalase, which degrades hydrogen peroxide, can stay active outside of the cell. Inviable cells of pathogenic yeast species can suppress host immune responses and, in this way, boost spread of the pathogen. In this review, we speculate that biochemical processes in dying cells can facilitate increase of stress resistance in the alive kin cells and therefore be a subject of natural selection. We considered possible scenarios of how dead microbial cells can increase survival of their kin using unicellular fungi – baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae – as an example. We conclude that the evolutionary conserved mechanisms of programmed cell death in yeast are likely to include a module of early permeabilization of the cell plasma membrane rather than preserve its integrity.
KEY WORDS: regulated cell death, functional differentiation, stress resistance, cell-to-cell communication, yeast

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297922120100