Oncogene Induced Cellular Senescence Elicits an Anti-Warburg Effect

  1. Mingxi Li1,2,†
  2. Kenneth R. Durbin2,†,
  3. Steve M. M. Sweet2
  4. Jeremiah D. Tipton3,
  5. Yupeng Zheng2,
  6. Neil L. Kelleher2,3,


Cellular senescence, an irreversible cell cycle arrest induced by a diversity of stimuli, has been considered as an innate tumor suppressing mechanism with implications and applications in cancer therapy. Using a targeted proteomics approach we show that fibroblasts induced into senescence by expression of oncogenic Ras exhibit a decrease of global acetylation on all core histones, consistent with formation of senescence-associated heterochromatic foci. We also detected clear increases in repressive markers (e.g., >50% elevation of H3K27me2/3) along with decreases in histone marks associated with increased transcriptional expression/elongation (e.g., H3K36me2/3). Despite the increases in repressive marks of chromatin, 179 loci (of 2206 total) were found to be upregulated by global quantitative proteomics. The changes in the cytosolic proteome indicated an upregulation of mitochondrial proteins and downregulation of proteins involved in glycolysis. These alterations in primary metabolism are opposite of the well-known Warburg effect observed in cancer cells. This study significantly improves our understanding of stress-induced senescence and provides a potential application for triggering it in anti-proliferative strategies that target the primary metabolism in cancer cells.

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The main focus of ageing research is to prevent/combat age-related disease and disability, allowing everyone to live healthier lives for longer.