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1.  Feedback between p21 and reactive oxygen production is necessary for cell senescence 
The sustained activation of CDKN1A (p21/Waf1/Cip1) by a DNA damage response induces mitochondrial dysfunction and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production via signalling through CDKN1A-GADD45A-MAPK14- GRB2-TGFBR2-TGFbeta in senescing primary human and mouse cells in vitro and in vivo.Enhanced ROS production in senescing cells generates additional DNA damage. Although this damage is repairable and transient, it elevates the average levels of DNA damage response permanently, thus forming a positive feedback loop.This loop is necessary and sufficient to maintain the stability of growth arrest until a ‘point of no return' is reached during establishment of senescence.
The phenomenon of cellular ‘senescence'—the permanent arrest of division in normally proliferating mammalian cells such as fibroblasts—is thought to be a central component of the ageing process. Senescence contributes both to age-related loss of tissue homeostasis, as the loss of division capacity leads to impaired cell renewal, and also to protect against cancer, because it acts to block the uncontrolled proliferation of cells that may give rise to a malignant tumour. Replicative senescence is triggered by uncapped telomeres or by ‘unrepairable' non-telomeric DNA damage. Both lesions initiate the same canonical DNA damage response (DDR) (d'Adda di Fagagna, 2008). This response is characterized by activation of sensor kinases (ATM/ATR, DNA-PK), formation of DNA damage foci containing activated H2A.X (γH2A.X) and ultimately induction of cell cycle arrest through activation of checkpoint proteins, notably p53 (TP53) and the CDK inhibitor p21 (CDKN1A). This signalling pathway continues to contribute actively to the stability of the G0 arrest in fully senescent cells long after induction of senescence (d'Adda di Fagagna et al, 2003). However, senescence is more complex than mere CDKI-mediated growth arrest. Senescent cells alter their expression of literally hundreds of genes (Shelton et al, 1999), prominent among these being pro-inflammatory secretory genes (Coppe et al, 2008) and marker genes for a retrograde response induced by mitochondrial dysfunction (Passos et al, 2007a).
There is a growing evidence that multiple mechanisms interact to underpin ageing at the cellular level (Kirkwood, 2005; Passos et al, 2007b) necessitating a systems biology approach if the complex mechanisms of ageing are to be understood (Kirkwood, 2008). With respect to cell senescence, the two major unanswered questions are (i) How does a DNA lesion that can be repaired, at least in principle, induce and maintain irreversible growth arrest? and (ii) How does a growth arrest trigger a completely different cellular phenotype as soon as it becomes irreversible?
To understand those questions, we performed a kinetic analysis of the establishment phase of senescence initiated by DNA damage or telomere dysfunction, focussing on pathways downstream of the classical DDR. Using an approach that combined (i) in-silico interactome analysis, (ii) functional target gene inhibition, (iii) stochastic modelling, and (iv) live cell microscopy, we identified a positive feedback loop between DDR and mitochondrial production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as necessary and sufficient for long-term maintenance of growth arrest. Using pathway log likelihood scores calculated by a quantitative in-silico interactome analysis to guide siRNA and small molecule inhibition experiments, and using results of sequential and combined inhibition experiments to refine the predictions from the interactome analysis, we found that DDR triggered mitochondrial dysfunction leading to enhanced ROS activation through a linear signal transduction through TP53, CDKN1A, GADD45A, p38 (MAPK14), GRB2, TGFBR2 and TGFβ(Figure 2D). We hypothesized that these ROS stochastically generate novel DNA damage in the nucleus, thus forming a positive feedback loop contributing to the long-term maintenance of DDR (Figure 3A). First confirmation came from static inhibitor experiments as before, showing that nuclear DNA damage foci frequencies in senescent cells were reduced if feedback signalling was suppressed. To formally establish the existence of a feedback loop and its relevance for senescence, we used live cell microscopy in combination with quantitative modelling.
We transformed the conceptual model shown in Figure 3A into a stochastic mechanistic model of the DDR feedback loop by extending the previously published model of the TP53/Mdm2 circuit (Proctor and Gray, 2008) to include reactions for synthesis/activation and degradation/deactivation/repair of CDKN1A, GADD45, MAPK14, ROS and DNA damage. The model replicated very precisely the kinetic behaviour of activated TP53, CDKN1A, ROS and DNA damage foci after initiation of senescence by irradiation. Having established its concordance with the experimental data, the model was then used to predict the effects of intervening in the feedback loop. The model predicted that any intervention reducing ROS levels by about half would decrease average DNA damage foci frequencies from six to four foci/nucleus within about 15 h. It further predicted that this would be sufficient to reduce CDKN1A to basal levels continuously for at least 6 h in about 20% of the treated cells, thus allowing a significant fraction of cells to escape from growth arrest and to resume proliferation. This should happen even if the intervention into the feedback loop was started at a late time point (e.g. 6 days) after induction of senescence.
To analyse DNA damage foci dynamics we used a reporter construct (AcGFP–53BP1c) that quantitatively reports single DNA damage foci kinetics in time-resolved live cell microscopy (Nelson et al, 2009). Foci frequency measurements quantitatively confirmed the prediction from the stochastic model. More importantly, we found that many individual foci in both telomere- and stress-dependent senescence had short lifespans with half-lives below 15 h. Feedback loop inhibition reduced only the frequencies of short-lived DNA damage foci in accordance with the hypothesis that ROS production contributed to DDR by constant replenishment of short-lived DNA damage foci.
Finally, we inhibited signalling through the loop at different time points after induction of senescence by ionizing radiation and measured ROS levels, DNA damage foci frequencies and proliferation markers. Treatments with the MAPK14 inhibitor SB203580 or the free radical scavenger PBN were used to block the loop. The results quantitatively confirmed the model prediction and indicated that the feedback loop between DDR and ROS production was both necessary and sufficient to maintain cell cycle arrest for at least 6–10 days after induction of senescence. Interestingly, the loop was still active at later time points and in deep senescence, but proliferation arrest was then stabilized by additional factor(s). This indicated that certain features of the senescent phenotype-like ROS production that might be responsible for the negative impact of senescent cells into their tissue environment can be successfully inhibited even in deep senescence. This may prove relevant for novel therapeutic studies aiming to modulate intracellular ROS levels in both aging and cancer.
Cellular senescence—the permanent arrest of cycling in normally proliferating cells such as fibroblasts—contributes both to age-related loss of mammalian tissue homeostasis and acts as a tumour suppressor mechanism. The pathways leading to establishment of senescence are proving to be more complex than was previously envisaged. Combining in-silico interactome analysis and functional target gene inhibition, stochastic modelling and live cell microscopy, we show here that there exists a dynamic feedback loop that is triggered by a DNA damage response (DDR) and, which after a delay of several days, locks the cell into an actively maintained state of ‘deep' cellular senescence. The essential feature of the loop is that long-term activation of the checkpoint gene CDKN1A (p21) induces mitochondrial dysfunction and production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) through serial signalling through GADD45-MAPK14(p38MAPK)-GRB2-TGFBR2-TGFβ. These ROS in turn replenish short-lived DNA damage foci and maintain an ongoing DDR. We show that this loop is both necessary and sufficient for the stability of growth arrest during the establishment of the senescent phenotype.
PMCID: PMC2835567  PMID: 20160708
aging; cell senescence; DNA damage foci; mitochondria; reactive oxygen
2.  Dynamic Modelling of Pathways to Cellular Senescence Reveals Strategies for Targeted Interventions 
PLoS Computational Biology  2014;10(8):e1003728.
Cellular senescence, a state of irreversible cell cycle arrest, is thought to help protect an organism from cancer, yet also contributes to ageing. The changes which occur in senescence are controlled by networks of multiple signalling and feedback pathways at the cellular level, and the interplay between these is difficult to predict and understand. To unravel the intrinsic challenges of understanding such a highly networked system, we have taken a systems biology approach to cellular senescence. We report a detailed analysis of senescence signalling via DNA damage, insulin-TOR, FoxO3a transcription factors, oxidative stress response, mitochondrial regulation and mitophagy. We show in silico and in vitro that inhibition of reactive oxygen species can prevent loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, whilst inhibition of mTOR shows a partial rescue of mitochondrial mass changes during establishment of senescence. Dual inhibition of ROS and mTOR in vitro confirmed computational model predictions that it was possible to further reduce senescence-induced mitochondrial dysfunction and DNA double-strand breaks. However, these interventions were unable to abrogate the senescence-induced mitochondrial dysfunction completely, and we identified decreased mitochondrial fission as the potential driving force for increased mitochondrial mass via prevention of mitophagy. Dynamic sensitivity analysis of the model showed the network stabilised at a new late state of cellular senescence. This was characterised by poor network sensitivity, high signalling noise, low cellular energy, high inflammation and permanent cell cycle arrest suggesting an unsatisfactory outcome for treatments aiming to delay or reverse cellular senescence at late time points. Combinatorial targeted interventions are therefore possible for intervening in the cellular pathway to senescence, but in the cases identified here, are only capable of delaying senescence onset.
Author Summary
Ageing is characterised by a gradual loss of homeostasis within organs, which is known to be driven by the accumulation of senescent cells. Cellular senescence helps prevent cells from becoming cancerous, but their detrimental effect on organ function becomes debilitating once they accumulate. These cells are particularly difficult for the body to remove, and therefore understanding what controls their survival and interactions within the organ is important to combat age-related disease. We present a mathematical model for cellular senescence. This model is used for predicting drug interventions for restoring function in cellular senescence. Whilst these interventions were predicted and tested in vitro, showing improved function and phenotype, none was able to restore cells to a pre-senescent state. Our model includes mitochondria, the power-plants of the cell, and we identify impairment of their turnover coupled with increased mitochondrial biogenesis as a mechanism which explained the long-term failure in drug intervention. Finally, we predict that the system dynamics stabilise in a new late-senescence state, characterised by limited network response to treatment and increased system vulnerability. This study shows formally for the first time the dynamics of cellular senescence as a system network and proves the requirement of early intervention in order to delay cellular senescence.
PMCID: PMC4159174  PMID: 25166345
3.  Senescence-Associated Secretory Phenotypes Reveal Cell-Nonautonomous Functions of Oncogenic RAS and the p53 Tumor Suppressor 
PLoS Biology  2008;6(12):e301.
Cellular senescence suppresses cancer by arresting cell proliferation, essentially permanently, in response to oncogenic stimuli, including genotoxic stress. We modified the use of antibody arrays to provide a quantitative assessment of factors secreted by senescent cells. We show that human cells induced to senesce by genotoxic stress secrete myriad factors associated with inflammation and malignancy. This senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) developed slowly over several days and only after DNA damage of sufficient magnitude to induce senescence. Remarkably similar SASPs developed in normal fibroblasts, normal epithelial cells, and epithelial tumor cells after genotoxic stress in culture, and in epithelial tumor cells in vivo after treatment of prostate cancer patients with DNA-damaging chemotherapy. In cultured premalignant epithelial cells, SASPs induced an epithelial–mesenchyme transition and invasiveness, hallmarks of malignancy, by a paracrine mechanism that depended largely on the SASP factors interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8. Strikingly, two manipulations markedly amplified, and accelerated development of, the SASPs: oncogenic RAS expression, which causes genotoxic stress and senescence in normal cells, and functional loss of the p53 tumor suppressor protein. Both loss of p53 and gain of oncogenic RAS also exacerbated the promalignant paracrine activities of the SASPs. Our findings define a central feature of genotoxic stress-induced senescence. Moreover, they suggest a cell-nonautonomous mechanism by which p53 can restrain, and oncogenic RAS can promote, the development of age-related cancer by altering the tissue microenvironment.
Author Summary
Cells with damaged DNA are at risk of becoming cancerous tumors. Although “cellular senescence” can suppress tumor formation from damaged cells by blocking the cell division that underlies cancer growth, it has also been implicated in promoting cancer and other age-related diseases. To understand how this might happen, we measured proteins that senescent human cells secrete into their local environment and found many factors associated with inflammation and cancer development. Different types of cells secrete a common set of proteins when they senesce. This senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) occurs not only in cultured cells, but also in vivo in response to DNA-damaging chemotherapy. Normal cells that acquire a highly active mutant version of the RAS protein, which is known to contribute to tumor growth, undergo cellular senescence, and develop a very intense SASP, with higher levels of proteins secreted. Likewise, the SASP is more intense when cells lose the functions of the tumor suppressor p53. Senescent cells promote the growth and aggressiveness of nearby precancerous or cancer cells, and cells with a more intense SASP do so more efficiently. Our findings support the idea that cellular senescence can be both beneficial, in preventing damaged cells from dividing, and deleterious, by having effects on neighboring cells; this balance of effects is predicted by an evolutionary theory of aging.
By controlling how damaged cells modify their surrounding tissue environment, a tumor suppressor gene can restrain, and an oncogene can promote, the development of cancer.
PMCID: PMC2592359  PMID: 19053174
4.  Significance of Cellular Senescence in Aging and Cancer 
Cellular senescence is a mechanism that induces an irreversible growth arrest in all somatic cells. Senescent cells are metabolically active but lack the capacity to replicate. Evolutionary theories suggest that cellular senescence is related to the organismal decline occurring in aging organisms. Also, such theories describe senescence as an antagonistically pleiotropic process that can have beneficial or detrimental effect on the organism. Cellular senescence is believed to be involved in the cellular changes observed as aging progresses. Accumulation of senescent cells appears to occur widely as the organism ages. Furthermore, senescence is a key element of the tumor suppressor pathways. Therefore, it is part of the natural barrier against the uncontrolled proliferation observed in cellular development of malignancies in multicellular organisms. Activation of the senescence process guarantees a limited number of cellular replications. The genetic network led by p53 is responsible for activation of senescence in response to DNA damage and genomic instability that could lead to cancer. A better comprehension of the genetic networks that control the cell cycle and induce senescence is important to analyze the association of senescence to longevity and diseases related to aging. For these reasons, experimental research both in vitro and in vivo aims to develop anticancer therapies based on senescence activation. The last decade of research on role and function of senescence in aging and cancer are discussed in this paper.
PMCID: PMC2802848  PMID: 20057963
Aging; Neoplasms; Pleiotropy; Telomere; Genetic pathways
5.  The Role of Cellular Senescence in the Gastrointestinal Mucosa 
Gut and Liver  2013;7(3):270-277.
Cellular senescence is a biologically irreversible state of cell-growth arrest that occurs following either a replicative or an oncogenic stimulus. This phenomenon occurs as a response to the presence of premalignant cells and appears to be an important anticancer mechanism that keeps these transformed cells at bay. Many exogenous and endogenous triggers for senescence have been recognized to act via genomic or epigenomic pathways. The most common stimulus for senescence is progressive loss of telomeric DNA, which results in the loss of chromosomal stability and eventual unregulated growth and malignancy. Senescence is activated through an interaction between the p16 and p53 tumor-suppressor genes. Senescent cells can be identified in vitro because they express senescence-associated β-galactosidase, a marker of increased lysosomal activity. Cellular senescence plays an integral role in the prevention and development of both benign and malignant gastrointestinal diseases. The senescence cascade and the cell-cycle checkpoints that dictate the progression and maintenance of senescence are important in all types of gastrointestinal cancers, including pancreatic, liver, gastric, colon, and esophageal cancers. Understanding the pathogenic mechanisms involved in cellular senescence is important for the development of agents targeted toward the treatment of gastrointestinal tumors.
PMCID: PMC3661957  PMID: 23710306
Cell aging; Gastrointestinal neoplasms; Aging; Gastrointestinal mucosa
6.  Stem cells, senescence, neosis and self-renewal in cancer 
We describe the basic tenets of the current concepts of cancer biology, and review the recent advances on the suppressor role of senescence in tumor growth and the breakdown of this barrier during the origin of tumor growth. Senescence phenotype can be induced by (1) telomere attrition-induced senescence at the end of the cellular mitotic life span (MLS*) and (2) also by replication history-independent, accelerated senescence due to inadvertent activation of oncogenes or by exposure of cells to genotoxins. Tumor suppressor genes p53/pRB/p16INK4A and related senescence checkpoints are involved in effecting the onset of senescence. However, senescence as a tumor suppressor mechanism is a leaky process and senescent cells with mutations or epimutations in these genes escape mitotic catastrophe-induced cell death by becoming polyploid cells. These polyploid giant cells, before they die, give rise to several cells with viable genomes via nuclear budding and asymmetric cytokinesis. This mode of cell division has been termed neosis and the immediate neotic offspring the Raju cells. The latter inherit genomic instability and transiently display stem cell properties in that they differentiate into tumor cells and display extended, but, limited MLS, at the end of which they enter senescent phase and can undergo secondary/tertiary neosis to produce the next generation of Raju cells. Neosis is repeated several times during tumor growth in a non-synchronized fashion, is the mode of origin of resistant tumor growth and contributes to tumor cell heterogeneity and continuity. The main event during neosis appears to be the production of mitotically viable daughter genome after epigenetic modulation from the non-viable polyploid genome of neosis mother cell (NMC). This leads to the growth of resistant tumor cells. Since during neosis, spindle checkpoint is not activated, this may give rise to aneuploidy. Thus, tumor cells also are destined to die due to senescence, but may escape senescence due to mutations or epimutations in the senescent checkpoint pathway. A historical review of neosis-like events is presented and implications of neosis in relation to the current dogmas of cancer biology are discussed. Genesis and repetitive re-genesis of Raju cells with transient "stemness" via neosis are of vital importance to the origin and continuous growth of tumors, a process that appears to be common to all types of tumors. We suggest that unlike current anti-mitotic therapy of cancers, anti-neotic therapy would not cause undesirable side effects. We propose a rational hypothesis for the origin and progression of tumors in which neosis plays a major role in the multistep carcinogenesis in different types of cancers. We define cancers as a single disease of uncontrolled neosis due to failure of senescent checkpoint controls.
PMCID: PMC1664585  PMID: 17092342
7.  Mineral nutrient remobilization during corolla senescence in ethylene-sensitive and -insensitive flowers 
AoB Plants  2013;5:plt023.
The flower has a finite lifespan that is controlled largely by its role in sexual reproduction. The programmed senescence of flowers allows the plant to systematically degrade the petal cells and remobilize nutrients to developing tissues, including the seeds. This senescence program is tightly controlled by the plant hormone ethylene in some flowers, while in some species the senescence signals are unknown. This review article will examine the role of nutrient remobilization during petal senescence and how this differs among flowers with different flower termination phenotypes.
The flower has a finite lifespan that is controlled largely by its role in sexual reproduction. Once the flower has been pollinated or is no longer receptive to pollination, the petals are programmed to senesce. A majority of the genes that are up-regulated during petal senescence, in both ethylene-sensitive and -insensitive flowers, encode proteins involved in the degradation of nucleic acids, proteins, lipids, fatty acids, and cell wall and membrane components. A smaller subset of these genes has a putative role in remobilizing nutrients, and only a few of these have been studied in detail. During senescence, carbohydrates (primarily sucrose) are transported from petals, and the degradation of macromolecules and organelles also allows the plant to salvage mineral nutrients from the petals before cell death. The remobilization of mineral nutrients from a few species has been investigated and will be reviewed in this article. Ethylene's role in nutrient remobilization is discussed by comparing nutrient changes during the senescence of ethylene-sensitive and -insensitive flowers, and by studies in transgenic petunias (Petunia × hybrida) that are insensitive to ethylene. Gene expression studies indicate that remobilization is a key feature of senescence, but some senescence-associated genes have different expression in leaves and petals. These gene expression patterns, along with differences in the nutrient content of leaves and petals, suggest that there are differences in the mechanisms of cellular degradation and nutrient transport in vegetative and floral organs. Autophagy may be the mechanism for large-scale degradation that allows for recycling during senescence, but it is unclear if this causes cell death. Future research should focus on autophagy and the regulation of ATG genes by ethylene during both leaf and petal senescence. We must identify the mechanisms by which individual mineral nutrients are transported out of senescing corollas in both ethylene-sensitive and -insensitive species.
PMCID: PMC3648795  PMID: 23671789
Abscission; autophagy; cell death; flowers; nitrogen; petals; petunias; phosphorus
8.  Clearance of p16Ink4a-positive senescent cells delays ageing-associated disorders 
Nature  2011;479(7372):232-236.
Advanced age is the main risk factor for most chronic diseases and functional deficits in humans, but the fundamental mechanisms that drive ageing remain largely unknown, impeding the development of interventions that might delay or prevent age-related disorders and maximize healthy lifespan. Cellular senescence, which halts the proliferation of damaged or dysfunctional cells, is an important mechanism to constrain the malignant progression of tumour cells1,2. Senescent cells accumulate in various tissues and organs with ageing3 and have been hypothesized to disrupt tissue structure and function because of the components they secrete4,5. However, whether senescent cells are causally implicated in age-related dysfunction and whether their removal is beneficial has remained unknown. To address these fundamental questions, we made use of a biomarker for senescence, p16Ink4a, to design a novel transgene, INK-ATTAC, for inducible elimination of p16Ink4a-positive senescent cells upon administration of a drug. Here we show that in the BubR1 progeroid mouse background, INK-ATTAC removes p16Ink4a-positive senescent cells upon drug treatment. In tissues—such as adipose tissue, skeletal muscle and eye—in which p16Ink4a contributes to the acquisition of age-related pathologies, life-long removal of p16Ink4a-expressing cells delayed onset of these phenotypes. Furthermore, late-life clearance attenuated progression of already established age-related disorders. These data indicate that cellular senescence is causally implicated in generating age-related phenotypes and that removal of senescent cells can prevent or delay tissue dysfunction and extend healthspan.
PMCID: PMC3468323  PMID: 22048312
9.  Lamin B1 loss is a senescence-associated biomarker 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2012;23(11):2066-2075.
This study rigorously defines lamin B1 loss as a marker of senescence in response to all classic signals of senescence, including DNA damage, oncogene activation, and replicative exhaustion. This decline is induced by activation of either the p53 or the pRb pathway and occurs in vivo in response to a senescence-inducing dose of radiation.
Cellular senescence is a potent tumor-suppressive mechanism that arrests cell proliferation and has been linked to aging. However, studies of senescence have been impeded by the lack of simple, exclusive biomarkers of the senescent state. Senescent cells develop characteristic morphological changes, which include enlarged and often irregular nuclei and chromatin reorganization. Because alterations to the nuclear lamina can affect both nuclear morphology and gene expression, we examined the nuclear lamina of senescent cells. We show here than lamin B1 is lost from primary human and murine cell strains when they are induced to senesce by DNA damage, replicative exhaustion, or oncogene expression. Lamin B1 loss did not depend on the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, nuclear factor-κB, ataxia telangiectasia–mutated kinase, or reactive oxygen species signaling pathways, which are positive regulators of senescent phenotypes. However, activation of either the p53 or pRB tumor suppressor pathway was sufficient to induce lamin B1 loss. Lamin B1 declined at the mRNA level via a decrease in mRNA stability rather than by the caspase-mediated degradation seen during apoptosis. Last, lamin B1 protein and mRNA declined in mouse tissue after senescence was induced by irradiation. Our findings suggest that lamin B1 loss can serve as biomarker of senescence both in culture and in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3364172  PMID: 22496421
10.  An RNA interference screen for identifying downstream effectors of the p53 and pRB tumour suppressor pathways involved in senescence 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:355.
Cellular senescence is an irreversible cell cycle arrest that normal cells undergo in response to progressive shortening of telomeres, changes in telomeric structure, oncogene activation or oxidative stress and acts as an important tumour suppressor mechanism.
To identify the downstream effectors of the p53-p21 and p16-pRB tumour suppressor pathways crucial for mediating entry into senescence, we have carried out a loss-of-function RNA interference screen in conditionally immortalised human fibroblasts that can be induced to rapidly undergo senescence, whereas in primary cultures senescence is stochastic and occurs asynchronously. These cells are immortal but undergo a rapid irreversible arrest upon activation of the p53-p21 and p16-pRB pathways that can be readily bypassed upon their inactivation. The primary screen identified 112 known genes including p53 and another 29 shRNAmirs targetting as yet unidentified loci. Comparison of these known targets with genes known to be up-regulated upon senescence in these cells, by micro-array expression profiling, identified 4 common genes TMEM9B, ATXN10, LAYN and LTBP2/3. Direct silencing of these common genes, using lentiviral shRNAmirs, bypassed senescence in the conditionally immortalised cells.
The senescence bypass screen identified TMEM9B, ATXN10, LAYN and LTBP2/3 as novel downstream effectors of the p53-p21 and p16-pRB tumour suppressor pathways. Although none of them has previously been linked to cellular senescence, TMEM9B has been suggested to be an upstream activator of NF-κB signalling which has been found to have a causal role in promoting senescence. Future studies will focus on determining on how many of the other primary hits also have a casual role in senescence and what is the mechanism of action.
PMCID: PMC3161017  PMID: 21740549
Cellular senescence; RNA interference screen; senescence bypass; conditionally immortal cells
11.  NF-κB Hyper-Activation by HTLV-1 Tax Induces Cellular Senescence, but Can Be Alleviated by the Viral Anti-Sense Protein HBZ 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(4):e1002025.
Activation of I-κB kinases (IKKs) and NF-κB by the human T lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) trans-activator/oncoprotein, Tax, is thought to promote cell proliferation and transformation. Paradoxically, expression of Tax in most cells leads to drastic up-regulation of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors, p21CIP1/WAF1 and p27KIP1, which cause p53-/pRb-independent cellular senescence. Here we demonstrate that p21CIP1/WAF1-/p27KIP1-mediated senescence constitutes a checkpoint against IKK/NF-κB hyper-activation. Senescence induced by Tax in HeLa cells is attenuated by mutations in Tax that reduce IKK/NF-κB activation and prevented by blocking NF-κB using a degradation-resistant mutant of I-κBα despite constitutive IKK activation. Small hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown indicates that RelA induces this senescence program by acting upstream of the anaphase promoting complex and RelB to stabilize p27KIP1 protein and p21CIP1/WAF1 mRNA respectively. Finally, we show that down-regulation of NF-κB by the HTLV-1 anti-sense protein, HBZ, delay or prevent the onset of Tax-induced senescence. We propose that the balance between Tax and HBZ expression determines the outcome of HTLV-1 infection. Robust HTLV-1 replication and elevated Tax expression drive IKK/NF-κB hyper-activation and trigger senescence. HBZ, however, modulates Tax-mediated viral replication and NF-κB activation, thus allowing HTLV-1-infected cells to proliferate, persist, and evolve. Finally, inactivation of the senescence checkpoint can facilitate persistent NF-κB activation and leukemogenesis.
Author Summary
Transcription factors of the NF-κB/Rel family are critical for the proliferation of lymphocytes and the expression of genes that mediate inflammatory and immune responses. They are often aberrantly activated in human cancers, especially leukemia, where they confer survival and proliferation advantages. Through the study of the trans-activator/oncoprotein, Tax, of the human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1), we have found that persistent and potentially oncogenic activation of NF-κB triggers a defense mechanism that commits cells into senescence, an irreversible state of cell cycle arrest. This checkpoint is turned on by hyper-activated p65/RelA and is mediated by two cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors, p21 and p27, in a p53- and pRb-independent manner. It is often impaired in cancer cells with constitutively active NF-κB. Our results anticipate that the anti-sense protein of HTLV-1, HBZ, which down-regulates NF-κB and HTLV-1 trans-activation by Tax, would mitigate or prevent Tax-induced senescence. This prediction has been borne out experimentally. Thus, Tax promotes robust HTLV-1 replication, potent NF-κB activation and senescence, while HBZ attenuates Tax-driven viral replication and NF-κB activation to allow proliferation of infected cells and persistent infection. Finally, our data support the notion that inactivation of the senescence checkpoint facilitates chronic NF-κB hyper-activation, a critical step in leukemia development.
PMCID: PMC3084201  PMID: 21552325
12.  Characterization of the p53 Response to Oncogene-Induced Senescence 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(9):e3230.
P53 activation can trigger various outcomes, among them reversible growth arrest or cellular senescence. It is a live debate whether these outcomes are influenced by quantitative or qualitative mechanisms. Furthermore, the relative contribution of p53 to Ras-induced senescence is also matter of controversy.
Methodology/Principal Findings
This study compared situations in which different signals drove senescence with increasing levels of p53 activation. The study revealed that the levels of p53 activation do not determine the outcome of the response. This is further confirmed by the clustering of transcriptional patterns into two broad groups: p53-activated or p53-inactivated, i.e., growth and cellular arrest/senescence. Furthermore, while p53-dependent transcription decreases after 24 hrs in the presence of active p53, senescence continues. Maintaining cells in the arrested state for long periods does not switch reversible arrest to cellular senescence. Together, these data suggest that a Ras-dependent, p53-independent, second signal is necessary to induce senescence. This study tested whether PPP1CA (the catalytic subunit of PP1α), recently identified as contributing to Ras-induced senescence, might be this second signal. PPP1CA is induced by Ras; its inactivation inhibits Ras-induced senescence, presumably by inhibiting pRb dephosphorylation. Finally, PPP1CA seems to strongly co-localize with pRb only during senescence.
The levels of p53 activation do not determine the outcome of the response. Rather, p53 activity seems to act as a necessary but not sufficient condition for senescence to arise. Maintaining cells in the arrested state for long periods does not switch reversible arrest to cellular senescence. PPP1CA is induced by Ras; its inactivation inhibits Ras-induced senescence, presumably by inhibiting pRb dephosphorylation. Finally, PPP1CA seems to strongly co-localize with pRb only during senescence, suggesting that PP1α activation during senescence may be the second signal contributing to the irreversibility of the senescent phenotype.
PMCID: PMC2535567  PMID: 18800172
13.  Aging and Immune Function: Molecular Mechanisms to Interventions 
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling  2011;14(8):1551-1585.
The immune system of an organism is an essential component of the defense mechanism aimed at combating pathogenic stress. Age-associated immune dysfunction, also dubbed “immune senescence,” manifests as increased susceptibility to infections, increased onset and progression of autoimmune diseases, and onset of neoplasia. Over the years, extensive research has generated consensus in terms of the phenotypic and functional defects within the immune system in various organisms, including humans. Indeed, age-associated alterations such as thymic involution, T cell repertoire skewing, decreased ability to activate naïve T cells and to generate robust memory responses, have been shown to have a causative role in immune decline. Further, understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the generation of proteotoxic stress, DNA damage response, modulation of ubiquitin proteasome pathway, and regulation of transcription factor NFκB activation, in immune decline, have paved the way to delineating signaling pathways that cross-talk and impact immune senescence. Given the role of the immune system in combating infections, its effectiveness with age may well be a marker of health and a predictor of longevity. It is therefore believed that a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying immune senescence will lead to an effective interventional strategy aimed at improving the health span of individuals. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 14, 1551–1585.
Aging and Immunity
Aging of the Innate Immune System
Granulocytes: neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils
Monocytes and macrophages
Natural killer and natural killer T cells
Dendritic cells
Adaptive Immunity and Aging
B lymphocytes
T lymphocytes
Causes and Mechanisms Underlying Immune Senescence
Thymic involution in immune senescence
ROS, aging, and immune dysfunction
Inflammaging and the paradox of NFκB signaling in immune senescence
Telomere attrition in immune senescence
Accelerated T cell aging due to repeated exposure to antigenic insults
Proteostasis and aging in the immune system
UPP in aging and immune senescence
Autophagy, aging, and immune response
Chaperone activity and immune senescence
Epigenetics in immune senescence
DNA damage and repair, genomic instability, and immune aging
miRNAs in immune senescence
Interventional Strategies for Reversal of Immune Dysfunction Accompanying Advancing Age
CR and its impact on immune aging
Cytokines, growth factors, and hormones as interventions in immune senescence
Immunotherapy as a potential intervention mechanism
Induction of proteome maintenance and antioxidant response genes as an intervention for ameliorating immune senescence
Induction of UPS as a mechanism for intervention in immune senescence
Conclusions and Future Perspectives
PMCID: PMC3061194  PMID: 20812785
14.  Human pituitary tumor-transforming gene 1 overexpression reinforces oncogene-induced senescence through CXCR2/p21 signaling in breast cancer cells 
Breast Cancer Research : BCR  2012;14(4):R106.
hPTTG1 (human pituitary tumor-transforming gene 1) is an oncogene overexpressed in breast cancer and several other types of cancer. Increased hPTTG1 expression has been shown to be associated with poor patient outcomes in breast cancer. Although hPTTG1 overexpression plays important roles in promoting the proliferation, invasion, and metastasis of cancer cells, it also has been suggested to induce cellular senescence. Deciphering the mechanism by which hPTTG1 overexpression induces these contradictory actions in breast cancer cells is critical to our understanding of the role of hPTTG1 in breast cancer development.
MCF-10A and MCF-7 cells were used to identify the mechanism of hPTTG1-induced senescence. The interplay between hPTTG1 overexpression and chemokine C-X-C motif receptor 2 (CXCR2)/p21-dependent senescence in tumor growth and metastasis of MCF-7 cells was investigated by orthotopic transplantation of severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice. Additionally, human invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) tissue arrays were used to confirm the hPTTG1/CXCR2/p21 axis established in vitro.
In this study, we investigated the mechanism of hPTTG1-induced senescence as well as its role in breast cancer progression and metastasis. Herein, we showed that hPTTG1 overexpression reinforced senescence through the CXCR2/p21 signaling. Furthermore, hPTTG1 overexpression activated NF-κB signaling to transactivate the expression of interleukin (IL)-8 and growth-regulated oncogene alpha (GROα) to execute CXCR2 signaling in MCF-7 cells. When CXCR2 expression was knocked down in hPTTG1-overexpressing MCF-7 cells, hPTTG1-induced senescence was abrogated by alleviating CXCR2-induced p21 expression. In a mouse model, CXCR2-mediated senescence limited hPTTG1-induced tumor growth and metastasis. Moreover, CXCR2 knockdown in hPTTG1-overexpressing MCF-7 tumors dramatically accelerated tumor growth and metastasis. Our in vitro and in vivo results demonstrated that hPTTG1 overexpression reinforces senescence through CXCR2 signaling, and the evasion of CXCR2/p21-dependent senescence was critical to hPTTG1 exerting its oncogenic potential. Interestingly, although CXCR2-dependent senescence restrained hPTTG1-induced tumor progression, when MCF-7 cells and hPTTG1-overexpressing MCF-7 cells were co-transplanted into the mammary fat pads of SCID mice, hPTTG1-overexpressing senescent cells created a metastasis-promoting microenvironment that promoted lung metastasis of the MCF-7 cells. Immunohistochemical analysis of human breast tumor samples also confirmed the importance of the hPTTG1/CXCR2 axis in promoting breast cancer metastasis.
Our findings provide novel molecular insights into hPTTG1-induced senescence and identify a novel mechanism by which hPTTG1 promotes metastasis by regulating the senescence-associated microenvironment.
PMCID: PMC3680924  PMID: 22789011
15.  PKCη promotes senescence induced by oxidative stress and chemotherapy 
Cell Death & Disease  2014;5(11):e1531-.
Senescence is characterized by permanent cell-cycle arrest despite continued viability and metabolic activity, in conjunction with the secretion of a complex mixture of extracellular proteins and soluble factors known as the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). Cellular senescence has been shown to prevent the proliferation of potentially tumorigenic cells, and is thus generally considered a tumor suppressive process. However, some SASP components may act as pro-tumorigenic mediators on premalignant cells in the microenvironment. A limited number of studies indicated that protein kinase C (PKC) has a role in senescence, with different isoforms having opposing effects. It is therefore important to elucidate the functional role of specific PKCs in senescence. Here we show that PKCη, an epithelial specific and anti-apoptotic kinase, promotes senescence induced by oxidative stress and DNA damage. We further demonstrate that PKCη promotes senescence through its ability to upregulate the expression of the cell cycle inhibitors p21Cip1 and p27Kip1 and enhance transcription and secretion of interleukin-6 (IL-6). Moreover, we demonstrate that PKCη creates a positive loop for reinforcing senescence by increasing the transcription of both IL-6 and IL-6 receptor, whereas the expression of IL-8 is specifically suppressed by PKCη. Thus, the presence/absence of PKCη modulates major components of SASP. Furthermore, we show that the human polymorphic variant of PKCη, 374I, that exhibits higher kinase activity in comparison to WT-374V, is also more effective in IL-6 secretion, p21Cip1 expression and the promotion of senescence, further supporting a role for PKCη in senescence. As there is now considerable interest in senescence activation/elimination to control tumor progression, it is first crucial to reveal the molecular regulators of senescence. This will improve our ability to develop new strategies to harness senescence as a potential cancer therapy in the future.
PMCID: PMC4260739  PMID: 25412309
16.  Insulin-like growth factor binding proteins 4 and 7 released by senescent cells promote premature senescence in mesenchymal stem cells 
Cell Death & Disease  2013;4(11):e911-.
Cellular senescence is the permanent arrest of cell cycle, physiologically related to aging and aging-associated diseases. Senescence is also recognized as a mechanism for limiting the regenerative potential of stem cells and to protect cells from cancer development. The senescence program is realized through autocrine/paracrine pathways based on the activation of a peculiar senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). We show here that conditioned media (CM) of senescent mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) contain a set of secreted factors that are able to induce a full senescence response in young cells. To delineate a hallmark of stem cells SASP, we have characterized the factors secreted by senescent MSC identifying insulin-like growth factor binding proteins 4 and 7 (IGFBP4 and IGFBP7) as key components needed for triggering senescence in young MSC. The pro-senescent effects of IGFBP4 and IGFBP7 are reversed by single or simultaneous immunodepletion of either proteins from senescent-CM. The blocking of IGFBP4/7 also reduces apoptosis and promotes cell growth, suggesting that they may have a pleiotropic effect on MSC biology. Furthermore, the simultaneous addition of rIGFBP4/7 increased senescence and induced apoptosis in young MSC. Collectively, these results suggest the occurrence of novel-secreted factors regulating MSC cellular senescence of potential importance for regenerative medicine and cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3847322  PMID: 24201810
senescence; mesenchymal stem cells; IGFBP4; IGFBP7; mass spectrometry; secretome
17.  Senescent Cells and Their Secretory Phenotype as Targets for Cancer Therapy 
Cancer is a devastating disease that increases exponentially with age. Cancer arises from cells that proliferate in an unregulated manner, an attribute that is countered by cellular senescence. Cellular senescence is a potent tumor-suppressive process that halts the proliferation, essentially irreversibly, of cells at risk for malignant transformation. A number of anti-cancer drugs have emerged that induce tumor cells to undergo cellular senescence. However, although a senescence response can halt the proliferation of cancer cells, the presence of senescent cells in tissues has been associated with age-related diseases, including, ironically, late-life cancer. Thus, anti-cancer therapies that can induce senescence might also drive aging phenotypes and age-related pathology. The deleterious effects of senescent cells most likely derive from their senescence-associated secretory phenotype or SASP. The SASP entails the secretion of numerous inflammatory cytokines, growth factors and proteases that can render the tissue microenvironment favorable for tumor growth. Here, we discuss the beneficial and detrimental effects of inducing cellular senescence, and propose strategies for targeting senescent cells as a means to fight cancer.
PMCID: PMC4167737  PMID: 23503512
18.  Kinetics of the Cell Biological Changes Occurring in the Progression of DNA Damage-Induced Senescence 
Molecules and Cells  2011;31(6):539-546.
Cellular senescence is characterized by cell-cycle arrest accompanied by various cell biological changes. Although these changes have been heavily relied on as senescence markers in numerous studies on senescence and its intervention, their underlying mechanisms and relationship to each other are poorly understood. Furthermore, the depth and the reversibility of those changes have not been addressed previously. Using flow cytometry coupled with confocal microscopy and Western blotting, we quantified various senescence-associated cellular changes and determined their time course profiles in MCF-7 cells undergoing DNA damage-induced senescence. The examined properties changed with several different kinetics patterns. Autofluorescence, side scattering, and the mitochondria content increased progressively and linearly. Cell volume, lysosome content, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) level increased abruptly at an early stage. Meanwhile, senescence associated β-galactosidase activity increased after a lag of a few days. In addition, during the senescence progression, lysosomes exhibited a loss of integrity, which may have been associated with the accumulation of ROS. The finding that various senescence phenotypes matured at different rates with different lag times suggests multiple independent mechanisms controlling the expression of senescence phenotypes. This type of kinetics study would promote the understanding of how cells become fully senescent and facilitate the screening of methods that intervene in cellular senescence.
PMCID: PMC3887620  PMID: 21533552
lipofuscin; lysosome; mitochondria; ROS; SA β-Gal; senescence phenotype
19.  The role of senescent cells in ageing 
Nature  2014;509(7501):439-446.
Cellular senescence has historically been viewed as an irreversible cell-cycle arrest mechanism that acts to protect against cancer, but recent discoveries have extended its known role to complex biological processes such as development, tissue repair, ageing and age-related disorders. New insights indicate that, unlike a static endpoint, senescence represents a series of progressive and phenotypically diverse cellular states acquired after the initial growth arrest. A deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the multi-step progression of senescence and the development and function of acute versus chronic senescent cells may lead to new therapeutic strategies for age-related pathologies and extend healthy lifespan.
PMCID: PMC4214092  PMID: 24848057
20.  Suppressed Expression of T-Box Transcription Factors Is Involved in Senescence in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
PLoS Computational Biology  2012;8(7):e1002597.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major global health problem. The etiology of COPD has been associated with apoptosis, oxidative stress, and inflammation. However, understanding of the molecular interactions that modulate COPD pathogenesis remains only partly resolved. We conducted an exploratory study on COPD etiology to identify the key molecular participants. We used information-theoretic algorithms including Context Likelihood of Relatedness (CLR), Algorithm for the Reconstruction of Accurate Cellular Networks (ARACNE), and Inferelator. We captured direct functional associations among genes, given a compendium of gene expression profiles of human lung epithelial cells. A set of genes differentially expressed in COPD, as reported in a previous study were superposed with the resulting transcriptional regulatory networks. After factoring in the properties of the networks, an established COPD susceptibility locus and domain-domain interactions involving protein products of genes in the generated networks, several molecular candidates were predicted to be involved in the etiology of COPD. These include COL4A3, CFLAR, GULP1, PDCD1, CASP10, PAX3, BOK, HSPD1, PITX2, and PML. Furthermore, T-box (TBX) genes and cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 2A (CDKN2A), which are in a direct transcriptional regulatory relationship, emerged as preeminent participants in the etiology of COPD by means of senescence. Contrary to observations in neoplasms, our study reveals that the expression of genes and proteins in the lung samples from patients with COPD indicate an increased tendency towards cellular senescence. The expression of the anti-senescence mediators TBX transcription factors, chromatin modifiers histone deacetylases, and sirtuins was suppressed; while the expression of TBX-regulated cellular senescence markers such as CDKN2A, CDKN1A, and CAV1 was elevated in the peripheral lung tissue samples from patients with COPD. The critical balance between senescence and anti-senescence factors is disrupted towards senescence in COPD lungs.
Author Summary
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD is among the most lethal of respiratory diseases. While this disease has been well characterized, more studies are needed to learn the interaction of macromolecules involved in the progression towards illness. We explored possible interactions involved in the disease process using a compendium of gene expression data from frontline cells of the respiratory airways of the lung. The gene expression data were generated under a variety of experimental conditions. Application of computational schemes, which robustly detect enduring patterns, among sections of the genes represented across the varying experimental perturbations, revealed important regulatory relationships. When gene expression data from lungs of patients with COPD were factored into these networks of regulatory relationships, certain highly connected nodes (hubs) representing differentially expressed genes emerged. Notably included are members of the T-box (TBX) family of genes and CDKN2A, which regulate cellular aging. These findings were confirmed in studies using lung samples from COPD patients. Novel genes linked to TBX and CDKN2A include COL4A3, CFLAR, GULP1, PDCD1, CASP10, PAX3, BOK, HSPD1, PITX2, and PML, which were thus predicted to be involved in the disease process. The balance between senescence and anti-senescence factors is disrupted towards senescence in COPD lungs.
PMCID: PMC3400575  PMID: 22829758
21.  Environmental stress, ageing and glial cell senescence: a novel mechanistic link to Parkinson’s disease? 
Journal of internal medicine  2013;273(5):429-436.
Exposure to environmental toxins is associated with a variety of age-related diseases including cancer and neurodegeneration. For example, in Parkinson’s disease (PD), chronic environmental exposure to certain toxins has been linked to the age-related development of neuropathology. Neuronal damage is believed to involve the induction of neuroinflammatory events as a consequence of glial cell activation. Cellular senescence is a potent anti-cancer mechanism that occurs in a number of proliferative cell types and causes the arrest of proliferation of cells at risk of malignant transformation following exposure to potentially oncogenic stimuli. With age, senescent cells accumulate and express a senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP; i.e. the robust secretion of many inflammatory cytokines, growth factors and proteases). Whereas cell senescence in peripheral tissues has been causally linked to a number of age-related pathologies, little is known about the induction of cellular senescence and the SASP in the brain. Based on recently reported findings, we propose that environmental stressors associated with PD may act in part by eliciting senescence and the SASP within non-neuronal glial cells in the ageing brain, thus contributing to the characteristic decline in neuronal integrity that occurs in this disorder.
PMCID: PMC3633085  PMID: 23600398
22.  DNA-damage response network at the crossroads of cell-cycle checkpoints, cellular senescence and apoptosis*  
Tissue homeostasis requires a carefully-orchestrated balance between cell proliferation, cellular senescence and cell death. Cells proliferate through a cell cycle that is tightly regulated by cyclin-dependent kinase activities. Cellular senescence is a safeguard program limiting the proliferative competence of cells in living organisms. Apoptosis eliminates unwanted cells by the coordinated activity of gene products that regulate and effect cell death. The intimate link between the cell cycle, cellular senescence, apoptosis regulation, cancer development and tumor responses to cancer treatment has become eminently apparent. Extensive research on tumor suppressor genes, oncogenes, the cell cycle and apoptosis regulatory genes has revealed how the DNA damage-sensing and -signaling pathways, referred to as the DNA-damage response network, are tied to cell proliferation, cell-cycle arrest, cellular senescence and apoptosis. DNA-damage responses are complex, involving “sensor” proteins that sense the damage, and transmit signals to “transducer” proteins, which, in turn, convey the signals to numerous “effector” proteins implicated in specific cellular pathways, including DNA repair mechanisms, cell-cycle checkpoints, cellular senescence and apoptosis. The Bcl-2 family of proteins stands among the most crucial regulators of apoptosis and performs vital functions in deciding whether a cell will live or die after cancer chemotherapy and irradiation. In addition, several studies have now revealed that members of the Bcl-2 family also interface with the cell cycle, DNA repair/recombination and cellular senescence, effects that are generally distinct from their function in apoptosis. In this review, we report progress in understanding the molecular networks that regulate cell-cycle checkpoints, cellular senescence and apoptosis after DNA damage, and discuss the influence of some Bcl-2 family members on cell-cycle checkpoint regulation.
PMCID: PMC1879163  PMID: 17565509
DNA-damage response network; Cell cycle; Cellular senescence; Apoptosis; Bcl-2 family
23.  Exploiting tumor cell senescence in anticancer therapy 
BMB Reports  2014;47(2):51-59.
Cellular senescence is a physiological process of irreversible cell-cycle arrest that contributes to various physiological and pathological processes of aging. Whereas replicative senescence is associated with telomere attrition after repeated cell division, stress-induced premature senescence occurs in response to aberrant oncogenic signaling, oxidative stress, and DNA damage which is independent of telomere dysfunction. Recent evidence indicates that cellular senescence provides a barrier to tumorigenesis and is a determinant of the outcome of cancer treatment. However, the senescence-associated secretory phenotype, which contributes to multiple facets of senescent cancer cells, may influence both cancer-inhibitory and cancer-promoting mechanisms of neighboring cells. Conventional treatments, such as chemo- and radiotherapies, preferentially induce premature senescence instead of apoptosis in the appropriate cellular context. In addition, treatment-induced premature senescence could compensate for resistance to apoptosis via alternative signaling pathways. Therefore, we believe that an intensive effort to understand cancer cell senescence could facilitate the development of novel therapeutic strategies for improving the efficacy of anticancer therapies. This review summarizes the current understanding of molecular mechanisms, functions, and clinical applications of cellular senescence for anticancer therapy. [BMB Reports 2014; 47(2): 51-59]
PMCID: PMC4163898  PMID: 24411464
Anticancer therapy; Cellular senescence; Tumorigenesis; SASP
24.  Supraphysiological androgen levels induce cellular senescence in human prostate cancer cells through the Src-Akt pathway 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13(1):214.
Prostate cancer (PCa) is the second leading cause of cancer mortality of men in Western countries. The androgen receptor (AR) and AR-agonists (androgens) are required for the development and progression of the normal prostate as well as PCa. However, it is discussed that in addition to their tumor promoting activity, androgens may also exhibit tumor suppressive effects. A biphasic growth response to androgens a growth-promoting and -inhibition has been observed that suggests that administration of supraphysiological androgen levels mediates growth reduction in AR expressing PCa cells.
Detection of senescence markers, three dimensional interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization (3D-iFISH), qRT-PCR, Western blotting, detection of GFP fusions, prostatectomy, ex vivo culturing.
Here, we describe that supraphysiological levels of androgens induce cell cycle arrest and markers of cellular senescence in human PCa cells, which may in part explain the growth inhibitory role of androgens. The expression of the senescence associated beta galactosidase is observed by treatment with the natural androgen DHT or the less metabolized synthetic androgen R1881. The induction of senescence marker was detected in human PCa cell lines as well as in human primary PCa tissue derived from prostatectomy treated ex vivo. Using interphase FISH (iFISH) suggests that the androgen-induced cellular senescence is associated with localizing the genomic E2F1 locus to senescence associated heterochromatic foci. Analysis of different signaling pathways in LNCaP cells suggest that the p16-Rb-E2F1 pathway is essential for the induction of cellular senescence since treatment with siRNA directed against p16 reduces the level of androgen-induced cellular senescence. Based on the rapid induction of androgen-mediated cellular senescence we identified the Src-PI3K-Akt-signaling pathway and autophagy being in part involved in androgen regulation.
Taken together, our data suggest that AR-agonists at supraphysiological levels mediate induction of cellular senescence in human PCa cells, which may have a protective anti-cancer role. These results provide also new insights for understanding androgen-mediated regulation of PCa growth.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-214) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4171558  PMID: 25216853
Nuclear receptor; Non-genomic signaling; Tumor suppression; Cellular senescence; Autophagy
25.  Macrophages, Nitric Oxide and microRNAs Are Associated with DNA Damage Response Pathway and Senescence in Inflammatory Bowel Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44156.
Cellular senescence can be a functional barrier to carcinogenesis. We hypothesized that inflammation modulates carcinogenesis through senescence and DNA damage response (DDR). We examined the association between senescence and DDR with macrophage levels in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In vitro experiments tested the ability of macrophages to induce senescence in primary cells. Inflammation modulating microRNAs were identified in senescence colon tissue for further investigation.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Quantitative immunohistochemistry identified protein expression by colon cell type. Increased cellular senescence (HP1γ; P = 0.01) or DDR (γH2A.X; P = 0.031, phospho-Chk2, P = 0.014) was associated with high macrophage infiltration in UC. Co-culture with macrophages (ANA-1) induced senescence in >80% of primary cells (fibroblasts MRC5, WI38), illustrating that macrophages induce senescence. Interestingly, macrophage-induced senescence was partly dependent on nitric oxide synthase, and clinically relevant NO• levels alone induced senescence. NO• induced DDR in vitro, as detected by immunofluorescence. In contrast to UC, we noted in Crohn’s disease (CD) that senescence (HP1γ; P<0.001) and DDR (γH2A.X; P<0.05, phospho-Chk2; P<0.001) were higher, and macrophages were not associated with senescence. We hypothesize that nitric oxide may modulate senescence in CD; epithelial cells of CD had higher levels of NOS2 expression than in UC (P = 0.001). Microarrays and quantitative-PCR identified miR-21 expression associated with macrophage infiltration and NOS2 expression.
Senescence was observed in IBD with senescence-associated β-galactosidase and HP1γ. Macrophages were associated with senescence and DDR in UC, and in vitro experiments with primary human cells showed that macrophages induce senescence, partly through NO•, and that NO• can induce DDR associated with senescence. Future experiments will investigate the role of NO• and miR-21 in senescence. This is the first study to implicate macrophages and nitrosative stress in a direct effect on senescence and DDR, which is relevant to many diseases of inflammation, cancer, and aging.
PMCID: PMC3435404  PMID: 22970173

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