Nature communications

Ablation of the p16(INK4a) tumour suppressor reverses ageing phenotypes of klotho mice.

PMID 25923845


The p16(INK4a) tumour suppressor has an established role in the implementation of cellular senescence in stem/progenitor cells, which is thought to contribute to organismal ageing. However, since p16(INK4a) knockout mice die prematurely from cancer, whether p16(INK4a) reduces longevity remains unclear. Here we show that, in mutant mice homozygous for a hypomorphic allele of the α-klotho ageing-suppressor gene (kl(kl/kl)), accelerated ageing phenotypes are rescued by p16(INK4a) ablation. Surprisingly, this is due to the restoration of α-klotho expression in kl(kl/kl) mice and does not occur when p16(INK4a) is ablated in α-klotho knockout mice (kl(-/-)), suggesting that p16(INK4a) is an upstream regulator of α-klotho expression. Indeed, p16(INK4a) represses α-klotho promoter activity by blocking the functions of E2Fs. These results, together with the observation that the expression levels of p16(INK4a) are inversely correlated with those of α-klotho throughout ageing, indicate that p16(INK4a) plays a previously unrecognized role in downregulating α-klotho expression during ageing.