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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Early growth response 2 (EGR2) is a novel regulator of the senescence programme


Senescence, a state of stable growth arrest, plays an important role in ageing and age-related diseases in vivo. Although the INK4/ARF locus is known to be essential for senescence programmes, the key regulators driving p16 and ARF transcription remain largely underexplored. Using siRNA screening for modulators of the p16/pRB and ARF/p53/p21 pathways in deeply senescent human mammary epithelial cells (DS HMECs) and fibroblasts (DS HMFs), we identified EGR2 as a novel regulator of senescence. EGR2 expression is up-regulated during senescence, and its ablation by siRNA in DS HMECs and HMFs transiently reverses the senescent phenotype. We demonstrate that EGR2 activates the ARF and p16 promoters and directly binds to both the ARF and p16 promoters. Loss of EGR2 down-regulates p16 levels and increases the pool of p16- p21- 'reversed' cells in the population. Moreover, EGR2 overexpression is sufficient to induce senescence. Our data suggest that EGR2 is a direct transcriptional activator of the p16/pRB and ARF/p53/p21 pathways in senescence and a novel marker of senescence.

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