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1.  Mitochondrial p32 Is a Critical Mediator of ARF-Induced Apoptosis 
Cancer cell  2008;13(6):542-553.
The shared exon 2 of the p14ARF-p16INK4a locus is frequently mutated in human cancers. However, in contrast to the exon 1β-encoded N-terminal half of ARF, the function of the exon 2-encoded C-terminal half of ARF has been elusive. Here, we report that the mitochondrial protein p32/C1QBP binds the ARF C terminus. We show that p32 is required for ARF to localize to mitochondria and induce apoptosis, and that ARF mutations specifically disrupting p32 binding can impair both of these functions. Wild-type ARF, but not a p32-binding-deficient ARF mutant, localizes to mitochondria, reduces mitochondrial membrane potential, and sensitizes cells to p53-induced apoptosis. These findings provide a potential explanation for the frequent human cancer mutations targeting the ARF C terminus.
PMCID: PMC4504427  PMID: 18538737
2.  Colorimetric Detection of Senescence-Associated β Galactosidase 
Most normal human cells have a finite replicative capacity and eventually undergo cellular senescence, whereby cells cease to proliferate. Cellular senescence is also induced by various stress signals, such as those generated by oncogenes, DNA damage, hyperproliferation, and an oxidative environment. Cellular senescence is well established as an intrinsic tumor suppressive mechanism. Recent progress concerning senescence research has revealed that cellular senescence occurs in vivo and that, unexpectedly, it has a very complex role in tissue repair, promoting tumor progression and aging via the secretion of various cytokines, growth factors, and enzymes. Therefore, the importance of biomarkers for cellular senescence has greatly increased. In 1995, we described the “senescence-associated β galactosidase” (SA-βgal) biomarker, which conveniently identifies individual senescent cells in vitro and in vivo. Here, we describe an updated protocol for the detection of cell senescence based on this widely used biomarker, which contributed to recent advances in senescence, aging and cancer research. We provide an example of detecting SA-βgal together with other senescence markers and a proliferation marker, EdU, in single cells.
PMCID: PMC3769963  PMID: 23296655
Aging; Biomarker; Cellular senescence; EdU labeling; SA-βgal; Immunostaining
3.  miR-141, a new player, joins the senescence orchestra 
Cell Cycle  2013;12(23):3586-3587.
PMCID: PMC3903708  PMID: 24189529
microRNA; senescence; BMI1; p16; miR-141; miR-200c; p16-pRb pathway; tumor suppression
4.  The diverse and complex roles of radiation on cancer treatment: therapeutic target and genome maintenance 
Cancer is a genetic disease, grows exponentially with the development of intrinsic and acquired treatment resistance. Past decade has witnessed a considerable progress towards the treatment and understanding of proposed hallmarks of cancer and together with advances in early detection and various treatment modalities. Radiation therapy is an integral part of cancer treatment armamentarium. In developed countries more than half of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy during their course of illness. Although radiation damages both cancer and normal cells, the goal of radiation therapy is to maximize the radiation dose to abnormal cancer cells while minimizing exposure to normal cells, which is adjacent to cancer cells or in the path of radiation. In recent years, life expectancy increases among cancer patients and this increase is due to the results of early diagnosis, screening efforts, improved treatments and with less late effects mostly secondary cancer development. Therefore, cancer survivorship issues have been gaining prominence in the area of radiation oncology research. Understanding the tradeoff between the expected decreases in normal tissue toxicity resulting from an improved radiation dose distribution to the targeted site is an increasingly pertinent, yet needed attention and research in the area of radiation oncology. In recent years, a number of potential molecular targets that involve either with radiation increased tumor cell killing or protecting normal cells have been identified. For clinical benefits, translating these findings to maximize the toxicity of radiation on tumor cells while safeguarding early or late normal cell toxicities using molecular targeted radioprotectors will be useful in radiation treatment.
PMCID: PMC3410581  PMID: 22860229
Cancer; radiation therapy; radioprotectors; normal genome maintenance
5.  Mdm2 RING Mutation Enhances p53 Transcriptional Activity and p53-p300 Interaction 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e38212.
The p53 transcription factor and tumor suppressor is regulated primarily by the E3 ubiquitin ligase Mdm2, which ubiquitinates p53 to target it for proteasomal degradation. Aside from its ubiquitin ligase function, Mdm2 has been believed to be capable of suppressing p53's transcriptional activity by binding with and masking the transactivation domain of p53. The ability of Mdm2 to restrain p53 activity by binding alone, without ubiquitination, was challenged by a 2007 study using a knockin mouse harboring a single cysteine-to-alanine point mutation (C462A) in Mdm2's RING domain. Mouse embryonic fibroblasts with this mutation, which abrogates Mdm2's E3 ubiquitin ligase activity without affecting its ability to bind with p53, were unable to suppress p53 activity. In this study, we utilized the Mdm2C462A mouse model to characterize in further detail the role of Mdm2's RING domain in the control of p53. Here, we show in vivo that the Mdm2C462A protein not only fails to suppress p53, but compared to the complete absence of Mdm2, Mdm2C462A actually enhances p53 transcriptional activity toward p53 target genes p21/CDKN1A, MDM2, BAX, NOXA, and 14-3-3σ. In addition, we found that Mdm2C462A facilitates the interaction between p53 and the acetyltransferase CBP/p300, and it fails to heterodimerize with its homolog and sister regulator of p53, Mdmx, suggesting that a fully intact RING domain is required for Mdm2's inhibition of the p300-p53 interaction and for its interaction with Mdmx. These findings help us to better understand the complex regulation of the Mdm2-p53 pathway and have important implications for chemotherapeutic agents targeting Mdm2, as they suggest that inhibition of Mdm2's E3 ubiquitin ligase activity may be sufficient for increasing p53 activity in vivo, without the need to block Mdm2-p53 binding.
PMCID: PMC3362553  PMID: 22666487
6.  pRb or its cousins 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(8):1486.
Comment on: Bazarov A, et al. Cell Cycle 2012; 11:1008–1013
PMCID: PMC3342955  PMID: 22544076
7.  Inhibition of HDM2 and Activation of p53 by Ribosomal Protein L23 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(17):7669-7680.
The importance of coordinating cell growth with proliferation has been recognized for a long time. The molecular basis of this relationship, however, is poorly understood. Here we show that the ribosomal protein L23 interacts with HDM2. The interaction involves the central acidic domain of HDM2 and an N-terminal domain of L23. L23 and L11, another HDM2-interacting ribosomal protein, can simultaneously yet distinctly interact with HDM2 together to form a ternary complex. We show that, when overexpressed, L23 inhibits HDM2-induced p53 polyubiquitination and degradation and causes a p53-dependent cell cycle arrest. On the other hand, knocking down L23 causes nucleolar stress and triggers translocation of B23 from the nucleolus to the nucleoplasm, leading to stabilization and activation of p53. Our data suggest that cells may maintain a steady-state level of L23 during normal growth; alternating the levels of L23 in response to changing growth conditions could impinge on the HDM2-p53 pathway by interrupting the integrity of the nucleolus.
PMCID: PMC506972  PMID: 15314174
8.  Control of the Replicative Life Span of Human Fibroblasts by p16 and the Polycomb Protein Bmi-1 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2003;23(1):389-401.
The polycomb protein Bmi-1 represses the INK4a locus, which encodes the tumor suppressors p16 and p14ARF. Here we report that Bmi-1 is downregulated when WI-38 human fibroblasts undergo replicative senescence, but not quiescence, and extends replicative life span when overexpressed. Life span extension by Bmi-1 required the pRb, but not p53, tumor suppressor protein. Deletion analysis showed that the RING finger and helix-turn-helix domains of Bmi-1 were required for life span extension and suppression of p16. Furthermore, a RING finger deletion mutant exhibited dominant negative activity, inducing p16 and premature senescence. Interestingly, presenescent cultures of some, but not all, human fibroblasts contained growth-arrested cells expressing high levels of p16 and apparently arrested by a p53- and telomere-independent mechanism. Bmi-1 selectively extended the life span of these cultures. Low O2 concentrations had no effect on p16 levels or life span extension by Bmi-1 but reduced expression of the p53 target, p21. We propose that some human fibroblast strains are more sensitive to stress-induced senescence and have both p16-dependent and p53/telomere-dependent pathways of senescence. Our data suggest that Bmi-1 extends the replicative life span of human fibroblasts by suppressing the p16-dependent senescence pathway.
PMCID: PMC140680  PMID: 12482990
9.  Regulation of a Senescence Checkpoint Response by the E2F1 Transcription Factor and p14ARF Tumor Suppressor 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2000;20(1):273-285.
Normal cells do not divide indefinitely due to a process known as replicative senescence. Human cells arrest growth with a senescent phenotype when they acquire one or more critically short telomeres as a consequence of cell division. Recent evidence suggests that certain types of DNA damage, chromatin remodeling, and oncogenic forms of Ras or Raf can also elicit a senescence response. We show here that E2F1, a multifunctional transcription factor that binds the retinoblastoma (pRb) tumor suppressor and that can either promote or suppress tumorigenesis, induces a senescent phenotype when overexpressed in normal human fibroblasts. Normal human cells stably arrested proliferation and expressed several markers of replicative senescence in response to E2F1. This activity of E2F1 was independent of its pRb binding activity but dependent on its ability to stimulate gene expression. The E2F1 target gene critical for the senescence response appeared to be the p14ARF tumor suppressor. Replicatively senescent human fibroblasts overexpressed p14ARF, and ectopic expression of p14ARF in presenescent cells induced a phenotype similar to that induced by E2F1. Consistent with a critical role for p14ARF, cells with compromised p53 function were immune to senescence induction by E2F1, as were cells deficient in p14ARF. Our findings support the idea that the senescence response is a critical tumor-suppressive mechanism, provide an explanation for the apparently paradoxical roles of E2F1 in oncogenesis, and identify p14ARF as a potentially important mediator of the senescent phenotype.
PMCID: PMC85083  PMID: 10594030

Results 1-9 (9)