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4.9 - 2nd March 1999


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Differential roles for cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors p21 and p16 in the mechanisms of senescence and differentiation in human fibroblasts.

Stein GH, Drullinger LF, Soulard A, Dulic V

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

Mol Cell Biol 1999 Mar;19(3):2109-17

The irreversible G1 arrest in senescent human diploid fibroblasts is probably caused by inactivation of the G1 cyclin-cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) complexes responsible for phosphorylation of the retinoblastoma protein (pRb). We show that the Cdk inhibitor p21(Sdi1,Cip1,Waf1), which accumulates progressively in aging cells, binds to and inactivates all cyclin E-Cdk2 complexes in senescent cells, whereas in young cells only p21-free Cdk2 complexes are active. Furthermore, the senescent-cell-cycle arrest occurs prior to the accumulation of the Cdk4-Cdk6 inhibitor p16(Ink4a), suggesting that p21 may be sufficient for this event. Accordingly, cyclin D1-associated phosphorylation of pRb at Ser-780 is lacking even in newly senescent fibroblasts that have a low amount of p16. Instead, the cyclin D1-Cdk4 and cyclin D1-Cdk6 complexes in these cells are associated with an increased amount of p21, suggesting that p21 may be responsible for inactivation of both cyclin E- and cyclin D1-associated kinase activity at the early stage of senescence. Moreover, even in the late stage of senescence when p16 is high, cyclin D1-Cdk4 complexes are persistent, albeit reduced by </=50% compared to young cells. We also provide new evidence that p21 may play a role in inactivation of the DNA replication factor proliferating cell nuclear antigen during early senescence. Finally, because p16 accumulates in parallel with the increases in senescence-associated beta-Gal activity and cell volume that characterize the senescent phenotype, we suggest that p16 upregulation may be part of a differentiation program that is turned on in senescent cells. Since p21 decreases after senescence is achieved, this upregulation of p16 may be essential for maintenance of the senescent-cell-cycle arrest.


Plasticity of hippocampal corticosteroid receptors during aging in the rat.

Hassan AH, Patchev VK, von Rosenstiel P, Holsboer F, Almeida OF

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, D-80804 Munich, Germany.

FASEB J 1999 Jan;13(1):115-22

Aging is commonly associated with dysregulation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis and cognitive impairment. On the basis of suggestions that these disruptions ensue from changes in the hippocampal complement of corticosteroid (mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid) receptors (MR and GR), we examined the availability of hippocampal MR and GR by measuring the in vivo uptake of 3H-aldosterone and 3H-dexamethasone (selective MR and GR agonists, respectively); MR and GR mRNA levels were also measured. We observed age-related declines in both the synthesis of MR and GR and the uptake of their respective ligands. Whereas MR mRNA levels and ligand uptake declined in parallel, GR binding declined more steeply than GR mRNA. This latter result, together with our finding that aged rats show impaired corticosteroid receptor mRNA and protein up-regulation after corticosteroid withdrawal, indicates decreased transcription of MR and GR genes and posttranslational modification of GR mRNA during aging. Given that corticosteroids can influence MR and GR synthesis and binding, and based on the finding that aged subjects show reduced basal secretion of corticosterone, we propose that this relative hypocorticalism may be responsible for the changes observed in MR and GR activity, which then leads to disturbances in neuroendocrine regulation and cognitive function in aged subjects.

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