Cell Aging :: physiology
Laboratory of Genetics, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.
Adult stem cells support tissue homeostasis and repair throughout the life of an individual. During ageing, numerous intrinsic and extrinsic changes occur that result in altered stem-cell behaviour and reduced tissue maintenance and regeneration. In the Drosophila testis, ageing results in a marked decrease in the self-renewal factor Unpaired (Upd), leading to a concomitant loss of germline stem cells. Here we demonstrate that IGF-II messenger RNA binding protein (Imp) counteracts endogenous small interfering RNAs to stabilize upd (also known as os) RNA. However, similar to upd, Imp expression decreases in the hub cells of older males, which is due to the targeting of Imp by the heterochronic microRNA let-7. In the absence of Imp, upd mRNA therefore becomes unprotected and susceptible to degradation. Understanding the mechanistic basis for ageing-related changes in stem-cell behaviour will lead to the development of strategies to treat age-onset diseases and facilitate stem-cell-based therapies in older individuals.
Most cited papers:
Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute/National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-1622, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Living in an oxygenated environment has required the evolution of effective cellular strategies to detect and detoxify metabolites of molecular oxygen known as reactive oxygen species. Here we review evidence that the appropriate and inappropriate production of oxidants, together with the ability of organisms to respond to oxidative stress, is intricately connected to ageing and life span.
Department of Medicine, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA. email@example.com
Autophagy is the major cellular pathway for the degradation of long-lived proteins and cytoplasmic organelles. It involves the rearrangement of subcellular membranes to sequester cargo for delivery to the lysosome where the sequestered material is degraded and recycled. For many decades, it has been known that autophagy occurs in a wide range of eukaryotic organisms and in multiple different cell types during starvation, cellular and tissue remodeling, and cell death. However, until recently, the functions of autophagy in normal development were largely unknown. The identification of a set of evolutionarily conserved genes that are essential for autophagy has opened up new frontiers for deciphering the role of autophagy in diverse biological processes. In this review, we summarize our current knowledge about the molecular machinery of autophagy and the role of the autophagic machinery in eukaryotic development.
Department of Biochemistry, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont., Canada.
The Holy Grail of gerontologists investigating cellular senescence is the mechanism responsible for the finite proliferative capacity of somatic cells. In 1973, Olovnikov proposed that cells lose a small amount of DNA following each round of replication due to the inability of DNA polymerase to fully replicate chromosome ends (telomeres) and that eventually a critical deletion causes cell death. Recent observations showing that telomeres of human somatic cells act as a mitotic clock, shortening with age both in vitro and in vivo in a replication dependent manner, support this theory's premise. In addition, since telomeres stabilize chromosome ends against recombination, their loss could explain the increased frequency of dicentric chromosomes observed in late passage (senescent) fibroblasts and provide a checkpoint for regulated cell cycle exit. Sperm telomeres are longer than somatic telomeres and are maintained with age, suggesting that germ line cells may express telomerase, the ribonucleoprotein enzyme known to maintain telomere length in immortal unicellular eukaryotes. As predicted, telomerase activity has been found in immortal, transformed human cells and tumour cell lines, but not in normal somatic cells. Telomerase activation may be a late, obligate event in immortalization since many transformed cells and tumour tissues have critically short telomeres. Thus, telomere length and telomerase activity appear to be markers of the replicative history and proliferative potential of cells; the intriguing possibility remains that telomere loss is a genetic time bomb and hence causally involved in cell senescence and immortalization.
The oncogene and Polycomb-group gene bmi-1 regulates cell proliferation and senescence through the ink4a locus.
Division of Molecular Carcinogenesis, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam.
The bmi-1 gene was first isolated as an oncogene that cooperates with c-myc in the generation of mouse lymphomas. We subsequently identified Bmi-1 as a transcriptional repressor belonging to the mouse Polycomb group. The Polycomb group comprises an important, conserved set of proteins that are required to maintain stable repression of specific target genes, such as homeobox-cluster genes, during development. In mice, the absence of bmi-1 expression results in neurological defects and severe proliferative defects in lymphoid cells, whereas bmi-1 overexpression induces lymphomas. Here we show that bmi-1-deficient primary mouse embryonic fibroblasts are impaired in progression into the S phase of the cell cycle and undergo premature senescence. In these fibroblasts and in bmi-1-deficient lymphocytes, the expression of the tumour suppressors p16 and p19Arf, which are encoded by ink4a, is raised markedly. Conversely, overexpression of bmi-1 allows fibroblast immortalization, downregulates expression of p16 and p19Arf and, in combination with H-ras, leads to neoplastic transformation. Removal of ink4a dramatically reduces the lymphoid and neurological defects seen in bmi-1-deficient mice, indicating that ink4a is a critical in vivo target for Bmi-1. Our results connect transcriptional repression by Polycomb-group proteins with cell-cycle control and senescence.
Both Rb/p16INK4a inactivation and telomerase activity are required to immortalize human epithelial cells.
Normal human cells undergo a limited number of divisions in culture and enter a non-dividing state called replicative senescence. Senescence is accompanied by several changes, including an increase in inhibitors of cyclin-dependent kinases and telomere shortening. The mechanisms by which viral oncogenes reverse these processes are not fully understood, although a general requirement for oncoproteins such as human papillomavirus E6 and E7 has suggested that the p53 and Rb pathways are targeted. Expression of the catalytic component of telomerase, hTERT, alone significantly extends the lifespan of human fibroblasts. Here we show that telomerase activity is not sufficient for immortalization of human keratinocyte or mammary epithelial cells: we find that neither addition of hTERT nor induction of telomerase activity by E6, both of which are active in maintaining telomere length, results in immortalization. Inactivation of the Rb/p16 pathway by E7 or downregulation of p16 expression, in combination with telomerase activity, however, is able to immortalize epithelial cells efficiently. Elimination of p53 and of the DNA-damage-induced G1 checkpoint is not necessary for immortalization, neither is elimination of p19ARF.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California 94720, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Cells from organisms with renewable tissues can permanently withdraw from the cell cycle in response to diverse stress, including dysfunctional telomeres, DNA damage, strong mitogenic signals, and disrupted chromatin. This response, termed cellular senescence, is controlled by the p53 and RB tumor suppressor proteins and constitutes a potent anticancer mechanism. Nonetheless, senescent cells acquire phenotypic changes that may contribute to aging and certain age-related diseases, including late-life cancer. Thus, the senescence response may be antagonistically pleiotropic, promoting early-life survival by curtailing the development of cancer but eventually limiting longevity as dysfunctional senescent cells accumulate.
Wen Xue, Lars Zender, Cornelius Miething, Ross A Dickins, Eva Hernando, Valery Krizhanovsky, Carlos Cordon-Cardo, Scott W Lowe
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York 11724, USA.
Although cancer arises from a combination of mutations in oncogenes and tumour suppressor genes, the extent to which tumour suppressor gene loss is required for maintaining established tumours is poorly understood. p53 is an important tumour suppressor that acts to restrict proliferation in response to DNA damage or deregulation of mitogenic oncogenes, by leading to the induction of various cell cycle checkpoints, apoptosis or cellular senescence. Consequently, p53 mutations increase cell proliferation and survival, and in some settings promote genomic instability and resistance to certain chemotherapies. To determine the consequences of reactivating the p53 pathway in tumours, we used RNA interference (RNAi) to conditionally regulate endogenous p53 expression in a mosaic mouse model of liver carcinoma. We show that even brief reactivation of endogenous p53 in p53-deficient tumours can produce complete tumour regressions. The primary response to p53 was not apoptosis, but instead involved the induction of a cellular senescence program that was associated with differentiation and the upregulation of inflammatory cytokines. This program, although producing only cell cycle arrest in vitro, also triggered an innate immune response that targeted the tumour cells in vivo, thereby contributing to tumour clearance. Our study indicates that p53 loss can be required for the maintenance of aggressive carcinomas, and illustrates how the cellular senescence program can act together with the innate immune system to potently limit tumour growth.
Diabetes Research Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461, USA.
Products of advanced protein glycosylation (advanced glycation end products, or AGEs) accumulate in tissues as a function of time and sugar concentration. AGEs induce permanent abnormalities in extracellular matrix component function, stimulate cytokine and reactive oxygen species production through AGE-specific receptors, and modify intracellular proteins. Pharmacologic inhibition of AGE formation in long-term diabetic animals prevents diabetic retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy, and arterial abnormalities in animal models. Clinical trials in humans are currently in progress.
Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0448, USA. email@example.com
Life Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 1 Cyclotron Road, Berkeley, California 94720, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Cells continually experience stress and damage from exogenous and endogenous sources, and their responses range from complete recovery to cell death. Proliferating cells can initiate an additional response by adopting a state of permanent cell-cycle arrest that is termed cellular senescence. Understanding the causes and consequences of cellular senescence has provided novel insights into how cells react to stress, especially genotoxic stress, and how this cellular response can affect complex organismal processes such as the development of cancer and ageing.