This study addresses the question of whether loss of p16INK4 expression contributes to the immortalization of human cells. In vitro immortalization usually proceeds through two phases. In the first phase (lifespan extension), cells continue proliferating and their telomeres continue shortening beyond the point at which normal cells become senescent. In the second phase (immortalization), the cells activate a telomere maintenance mechanism and acquire an unlimited proliferative potential.
Inactivation of p16INK4 tumor suppressor gene function is frequently observed in breast cancer. We examined p16INK4 expression in human mammary epithelial cell (HMEC) cultures established from four normal donors. Normal HMECs divide a limited number of times before proliferation ceases in a state referred to as selection (or M0). The cell subpopulation that emerges spontaneously from selection undergoes a further limited period of proliferation before senescence.
Replicative senescence is thought to be a significant barrier to human tumorigenesis, which in human fibroblasts, and many other cell types, can be overcome experimentally by combined loss of function of p53 and Rb 'pathways'. To avoid the confounding pleiotropic effects of HPVE7 frequently used in such studies, here we have employed retroviral vectors over-expressing CDK4 or CDK6 as a more representative model of naturally-occurring mutations targeting the Rb pathway.
Numerous studies have shown that supplementation of the growth medium of human fibroblasts with dexamethasone at physiologic concentrations extends replicative lifespan up to 30%. While this extension of lifespan has been used to probe various aspects of the senescent phenotype, no mechanism for the increased lifespan of human fibroblasts grown in the presence of dexamethasone has ever been identified.
The lifespan of human foreskin fibroblasts (HFF5), cultured under standard in vitro conditions (including ambient atmospheric oxygen tension), was extended slightly by expression of exogenous mortalin (mot-2)/mthsp70/Grp75, but not by the catalytic subunit of telomerase, hTERT. Together, mot-2 and hTERT permitted bypass of senescence, a substantial extension of lifespan, and possibly immortalization. This is the first demonstration that mot-2 and telomerase can cooperate in the immortalization process.
Current models envision replicative senescence to be under dual control by the p53 and retinoblastoma (RB) tumour-suppressor pathways. The role of the p16(INK4a)-RB pathway is controversial, and the function of RB in human cells has not been tested directly. We used targeted homologous recombination to knock out one copy of RB in presenescent human fibroblasts. During entry into senescence, RB+/- cells underwent spontaneous loss of heterozygosity and the resultant RB-/- clones bypassed senescence. The extended lifespan phase was eventually terminated by a crisis-like state.
Fetal cardiomyocytes have been proposed as a potential source of cell-based therapy for heart failure. This study examined cellular senescence in cultured human fetal ventricular cardiomyocytes (HFCs). HFCs were isolated and identified by immunocytochemistry and RT-PCR. Cells were found to senesce after 20-25 population doublings, as determined by growth arrest, morphological changes and senescence-associated beta-galactosidase activity. Using the telomeric repeat amplification protocol assay, telomerase activity was undetectable in primary HFCs.
In mammalian cells, products of the INK4a-ARF locus play major roles in senescence and tumour suppression in different contexts, whereas the adjacent INK4b gene is more generally associated with transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta)-mediated growth arrest. As the chicken genome does not encode an equivalent of INK4a, we asked whether INK4b and/or ARF contribute to replicative senescence in chicken cells.
Human keratinocytes grown in co-culture with fibroblast feeder cells have an extended in vitro lifespan and delayed accumulation of the tumor suppressor protein p16(INK4a) when compared to the same cells grown on tissue culture plastic alone. Previous studies have indicated that human keratinocytes can be immortalized by telomerase activity alone when grown in co-culture with feeder cells, suggesting that loss of the p16(INK4a)/Rb pathway is not required for immortalization.
FASEB journal: official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Cancer cells metabolize glucose at elevated rates and have a higher sensitivity to glucose reduction. However, the precise molecular mechanisms leading to different responses to glucose restriction between normal and cancer cells are not fully understood. We analyzed normal WI-38 and immortalized WI-38/S fetal lung fibroblasts and found that glucose restriction resulted in growth inhibition and apoptosis in WI-38/S cells, whereas it induced lifespan extension in WI-38 cells.