Journal of cell science

Temporally distinct roles of ATM and ROS in genotoxic-stress-dependent induction and maintenance of cellular senescence.

PMID 25416819


Cells exposed to genotoxic stress induce cellular senescence through a DNA damage response (DDR) pathway regulated by ATM kinase and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Here, we show that the regulatory roles for ATM kinase and ROS differ during induction and maintenance of cellular senescence. Cells treated with different genotoxic agents were analyzed using specific pathway markers and inhibitors to determine that ATM kinase activation is directly proportional to the dose of the genotoxic stress and that senescence initiation is not dependent on ROS or the p53 status of cells. Cells in which ROS was quenched still activated ATM and initiated the DDR when insulted, and progressed normally to senescence. By contrast, maintenance of a viable senescent state required the presence of ROS as well as activated ATM. Inhibition or removal of either of the components caused cell death in senescent cells, through a deregulated ATM-ROS axis. Overall, our work demonstrates existence of an intricate temporal hierarchy between genotoxic stress, DDR and ROS in cellular senescence. Our model reports the existence of different stages of cellular senescence with distinct regulatory networks.