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Nat Cell Biol. 2006 Nov;8(11):1291-7. Epub 2006 Oct 8.

Mitogenic signalling and the p16INK4a-Rb pathway cooperate to enforce irreversible cellular senescence.

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Institute for Genome Research, University of Tokushima, Tokushima 770-8503, Japan.


The p16(INK4a) cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor has a key role in establishing stable G1 cell-cycle arrest through activating the retinoblastoma (Rb) tumour suppressor protein pRb in cellular senescence. Here, we show that the p16(INK4a) /Rb-pathway also cooperates with mitogenic signals to induce elevated intracellular levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), thereby activating protein kinase Cdelta (PKCdelta) in human senescent cells. Importantly, once activated by ROS, PKCdelta promotes further generation of ROS, thus establishing a positive feedback loop to sustain ROS-PKCdelta signalling. Sustained activation of ROS-PKCdelta signalling irreversibly blocks cytokinesis, at least partly through reducing the level of WARTS (also known as LATS1), a mitotic exit network (MEN) kinase required for cytokinesis, in human senescent cells. This irreversible cytokinetic block is likely to act as a second barrier to cellular immortalization ensuring stable cell-cycle arrest in human senescent cells. These results uncover an unexpected role for the p16(INK4a)-Rb pathway and provide a new insight into how senescent cell-cycle arrest is enforced in human cells.

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