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Dev Cell. 2009 Jul;17(1):142-9. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2009.05.009.

p38MAPK controls expression of multiple cell cycle inhibitors and islet proliferation with advancing age.

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Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Proteos, Singapore.


Aging is a complex organismal process that is controlled by genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors. Accumulating evidence supports a role for different cell cycle inhibitors in mammalian aging. Little is known, however, about the upstream signals that induce their expression. Here, we explore the role of p38MAPK by generating a dominant-negative allele (p38(AF)) in which activating phosphorylation sites Thr180 and Tyr182 are mutated. Heterozygous p38(AF) mice show a marked attenuation of p38-dependent signaling and age-induced expression of multiple cell cycle inhibitors in different organs, including pancreatic islets. As a result, aged p38(AF/+) mice show enhanced proliferation and regeneration of islets when compared to wild-type littermates. We further find an age-related reduction in expression of the p38-specific phosphatase Wip1. Wip1-deficient mice demonstrate decreased islet proliferation, while Wip1 overexpression rescues aging-related decline in proliferation and regenerative capacity. We propose that modulation of p38MAPK activity may provide new avenues for treating certain age-related degenerative diseases.

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