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Genome. 1989;31(1):386-9.

Altered gene expression during cellular aging.

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Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington Center on Aging, Department of Cell Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030.


The limited division potential of normal human diploid fibroblasts in culture represents a model system for cellular aging. Observations indicate cellular senescence is an active process. Senescent cells, although unable to divide, are actively metabolizing. Hybrids from fusion of normal and immortal human cells exhibit limited division potential, suggesting that the phenotype of cellular senescence is dominant and supporting the hypothesis that senescence is genetically programmed. Fusion of immortal human cell lines with each other has identified four complementation groups for indefinite division. This indicates that a limited number of specific genes or processes are involved in senescence. Senescent cells express highly abundant DNA synthesis inhibitory messenger RNAs and produce a surface membrane associated protein inhibitor of DNA synthesis not expressed in young cells. Senescent cell membranes were used as immunogen to generate three monoclonal antibodies reacting specifically with senescent but not young cells in several normal human cell lines. We have also found that fibronectin messenger RNA accumulates to high levels in senescent cells. The role of these changes in gene expression in senescence is being explored.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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