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Cell Physiol Biochem. 2018 Nov 26;51(3):1103-1118. doi: 10.1159/000495490. [Epub ahead of print]

Nuclear Translocation of Argonaute 2 in Cytokine-Induced Senescence.

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Department of Dermatology, University Medical Center Tübingen, Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen, Germany.
Institut Pasteur, Nuclear Organisation and Oncogenesis Unit, Department of Cell Biology and Infection, Paris, France.
INSERM, U993, Paris, France.
Equipe Labellisée Fondation ARC pour la recherche sur le cancer, Paris, France.
Department of Dermatology, University Medical Center Tübingen, Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen,



Cellular senescence, or permanent growth arrest, is known as an effective tumor suppressor mechanism that can be induced by different stressors, such as oncogenes, chemotherapeutics or cytokine cocktails. Previous studies demonstrated that the growth-repressing state of oncogene-induced senescent cells depends on argonaute protein 2 (Ago2)-mediated transcriptional gene silencing and Ago2/Rb corepression of E2F-dependent cell cycle genes. Cytokine-induced senescence (CIS) likewise depends on activation of the p16Ink4a/Rb pathway, and consecutive inactivation of the E2F family of transcription factors. In the present study, we therefore analyzed the role of Ago2 in CIS.


Human cancer cell lines were treated with interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) to induce senescence. Senescence was determined by growth assays and measurement of senescence-associated β-galactosidase (SA-β-gal) activity, Ago2 translocation by Ago2/ Ki67 immunofluorescence staining and western blot analysis, and gene transcription by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR).


IFN-γ and TNF permanently stopped cell proliferation and time-dependently increased SA-β-gal activity. After 24 - 48 h of cytokine treatment, Ago2 translocated from the cytoplasm into the nucleus of Ki67-negative cells, an effect which was shown to be reversible. Importantly, the proinflammatory cytokine cocktail suppressed Ago2-regulated cell cycle control genes, and siRNA-mediated depletion of Ago2 interfered with cytokine-induced growth inhibition.


IFN-γ and TNF induce a stable cell cycle arrest of cancer cells that is accompanied by a fast nuclear Ago2 translocation and repression of Ago2-regulated cell cycle control genes. As Ago2 downregulation impairs cytokine-induced growth regulation, Ago2 may contribute to tissue homeostasis in human cancers.


Cellular Senescence; Interferons; Stable Growth Arrest; Tumor Necrosis Factor; Tumor Surveillance

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