Cell size and growth rate are major determinants of replicative lifespan.
Yeast cells, like mammalian cells, enlarge steadily as they age. Unabated cell growth can promote cellular senescence; however, the significance of the relationship between size and cellular lifespan is not well understood. Herein, we report a genetic link between cell size, growth rate and lifespan. Mutations that increase cell size concomitantly increase growth rate and decrease lifespan. As a result, large cells grow, divide and age dramatically faster than small cells. Conversely, small cell mutants age slowly and are long-lived. Investigation of the mechanisms involved suggests that attainment of a maximal size modulates lifespan. Indeed, cumulative results revealed that life expectancy is size-dependent, and that the rate at which cells age is determined in large part by the amount of cell growth per generation.