Examining the Biological Antioxidant Benefits of Proline in Yeast

by Michael Dirkx, Rachael Reicks, and Michael Keane
Faculty advisor: Dr. Brian Lenzmeier

Natural metabolism and environmental stress are known to generate free radicals, specifically reactive oxygen species (ROS). These have been shown to cause cell apoptosis, DNA damage, rigid cell membranes, and most recently, aging. Fortunately, our body contains enzymes to handle these potentially damaging species. Catalase, Peroxidase, and Superoxide Dismutase are the three enzymes which convert reactive oxygen species and peroxide, a radical inducer, into water and oxygen gas. We have shown incubation of yeast cells in the presence of a high concentration of proline has been shown to increase the ability of yeast cells to survive exposure to reactive species. The exact mechanism by which proline is causing these effects is unknown, but according to our results may be mediated by Rad52, which is a prominent DNA repair enzyme. The exact mechanism by which proline effects Rad52 levels is yet to be determined.