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4.6 - 31st December 1998


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Molecular mechanisms for the senescent cell cycle arrest.

Stein GH, Dulic V Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder 80309-0347, USA.

J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc 1998 Aug;3(1):14-8

Normal human diploid fibroblasts (HDF) have a finite proliferative life-span at the end of which they are arrested with a G1 phase DNA content regardless of the culture conditions. Serum stimulated senescent HDF fail to phosphorylate their retinoblastoma protein (pRb) and consequently do not express a large cohort of late G1 phase genes whose products are necessary for entry into S phase. Because pRb is believed to be phosphorylated sequentially in G1 phase by cyclin D-CDK4/6 and cyclin E-CDK2 complexes, we and others have investigated the status of these complexes in senescent HDF. There is little or no cyclin E-associated kinase activity in senescent IMR90 even though potentially active cyclin E-CDK2 complexes are present, suggesting the presence of an inhibitor. Likewise, cyclin D is complexed with its catalytic partners CDK4 and CDK6 in senescent HDF, but it is not known whether these complexes are active. p21Sdi1,Cip1,Waf1, a ubiquitous inhibitor of the activity of cyclin-CDK complexes, increases progressively throughout the life-span of HDF, but then declines again after the cells become senescent. In contrast, p16Ink4a, which binds monomeric CDK4 and CDK6 thereby preventing their binding to cyclin D, is increased dramatically at the time of senescence and remains high for at least 2 mo. Thus, it is possible that increased p21 initiates the senescent cell cycle arrest in normal cells, but p16 is important for the long-term maintenance of that arrest.


Senescence of human fibroblasts induced by oncogenic Raf.

Zhu J, Woods D, McMahon M, Bishop JM Department of Microbiology and Immunology and G.W. Hooper Foundation, University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), California 94143-0552, USA.

Genes Dev 1998 Oct 1;12(19):2997-3007

The oncogenes RAS and RAF came to view as agents of neoplastic transformation. However, in normal cells, these genes can have effects that run counter to oncogenic transformation, such as arrest of the cell division cycle, induction of cell differentiation, and apoptosis. Recent work has demonstrated that RAS elicits proliferative arrest and senescence in normal mouse and human fibroblasts. Because the Raf/MEK/MAP kinase signaling cascade is a key effector of signaling from Ras proteins, we examined the ability of conditionally active forms of Raf-1 to elicit cell cycle arrest and senescence in human cells. Activation of Raf-1 in nonimmortalized human lung fibroblasts (IMR-90) led to the prompt and irreversible arrest of cellular proliferation and the premature onset of senescence. Concomitant with the onset of cell cycle arrest, we observed the induction of the cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors p21(Cip1) and p16(Ink4a). Ablation of p53 and p21(Cip1) expression by use of the E6 oncoprotein of HPV16 demonstrated that expression of these proteins was not required for Raf-induced cell cycle arrest or senescence. Furthermore, cell cycle arrest and senescence were elicited in IMR-90 cells by the ectopic expression of p16(Ink4a) alone. Pharmacological inhibition of the Raf/MEK/MAP kinase cascade prevented Raf from inducing p16(Ink4a) and also prevented Raf-induced senescence. We conclude that the kinase cascade initiated by Raf can regulate the expression of p16(Ink4a) and the proliferative arrest and senescence that follows. Induction of senescence may provide a defense against neoplastic transformation when the MAP kinase signaling cascade is inappropriately active.

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