The Miniature-chemostat Aging Device: A new experimental platform facilitates assessment of the transcriptional and chromatin landscapes of replicatively aging yeast
Replicative aging of Saccharomyces cerevisiae is an established model system for eukaryotic cellular aging. A major limitation in yeast lifespan studies has been the difficulty of separating old cells from young cells in large quantities for in-depth comparative analyses. We engineered a new platform, the Miniature-chemostat Aging Device (MAD), that enables purification of aged cells at sufficient quantities to enable genomic and biochemical characterization of aging yeast populations. Using the MAD platform, we measured DNA accessibility (ATAC-Seq) and gene expression (RNA-Seq) changes in aging cells. Our data highlight an intimate connection between aging, growth rate, and stress, as many (but not all) genes that change with age have altered expression in cells that are subjected to stress. Stress-independent genes that change with age are highly enriched for targets of the signal recognition particle (SRP). By obtaining pure populations of old cells, we find that nucleosome occupancy does not change significantly with age; however, significant age-dependent changes in accessibility at ~12% of genomic loci reflect decreased replication and changing activities of cell cycle and metabolic regulators. Finally, ATAC-seq revealed that upregulating the proteasome by deleting UBR2 reduces rDNA instability usually observed in aging cells, demonstrating a connection between proteasome activity and genomic stability.