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Neoplasia. 2005 Sep;7(9):816-23.

The identification of senescence-specific genes during the induction of senescence in prostate cancer cells.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center, Madison, WI 53972, USA.


Classic mechanisms of tumor response to chemotherapy include apoptosis and mitotic catastrophe. Recent studies have suggested that cellular senescence, a terminal proliferation arrest seen in vitro, may be invoked during the exposure of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents. To identify markers associated specifically with the cellular senescence phenotype, we utilized expression data from cDNA microarray experiments identifying transcripts whose expression levels increased as human prostate epithelial cells progressed to senescence. When screened against other growth-inhibitory conditions, including quiescence and apoptosis, many of these transcripts were also upregulated, indicating that similar pathways occur between apoptosis and senescence. A senescent-like phenotype was then induced in several prostate cancer cell lines using 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine, doxorubicin, or Docetaxel. Treatment with these agents resulted in a significant increase in the induction of senescence-specific genes when compared to nonsenescent conditions. The performance of the panel was improved with fluorescence-activated cell sorting using PKH26 to isolate nonproliferating, viable, drug-treated populations, indicating that a heterogeneous response occurs with chemotherapy. We have defined an RNA-based gene panel that characterizes the senescent phenotype induced in cancer cells by drug treatment. These data also indicate that a panel of genes, rather than one marker, needs to be utilized to identify senescence.

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