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Cell Death Differ. 2012 Apr;19(4):713-21. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2011.143. Epub 2011 Nov 4.

A set of miRNAs participates in the cellular senescence program in human diploid fibroblasts.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Biochimica e Biotecnologie Mediche, Università di Napoli Federico II, Italy.


Here we show that replicative senescence in normal human diploid IMR90 fibroblasts is accompanied by altered expression of a set of microRNAs (miRNAs) (senescence-associated miRNAs), with 14 and 10 miRNAs being either up or downregulated (>2-fold), respectively, in senescent with respect to young cells. The expression of most of these miRNAs was also deregulated upon senescence induced by DNA damage (etoposide) or mild oxidative stress (diethylmaleate). Four downregulated miRNAs were part of miRNA family-17, recently associated to human cell and tissue aging. Moreover, eight upregulated and six downregulated miRNAs mapped in specific chromosomal clusters, suggesting common transcriptional regulation. Upon adoptive overexpression, seven upregulated miRNAs induced the formation of senescence-associated heterochromatin foci and senescence-associated β-galactosidase staining (P<0.05), which was accompanied, in the case of five of them, by reduced cell proliferation. Finally, miR-210, miR-376a(*), miR-486-5p, miR-494, and miR-542-5p induced double-strand DNA breaks and reactive oxygen species accumulation in transfected cells. In conclusion, we have identified a set of human miRNAs induced during replicative and chemically induced senescence that are able to foster the senescent phenotype by prompting DNA damage.

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