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Hematology - Oncology - Pharmacology - Physiology

Induction of Cellular Senescence by Doxorubicin Is Associated with Upregulated miR-375 and Induction of Autophagy in K562 Cells
Published: Friday, May 11, 2012
Author: Ming-Yu Yang et al.

by Ming-Yu Yang, Pai-Mei Lin, Yi-Chang Liu, Hui-Hua Hsiao, Wen-Chi Yang, Jui-Feng Hsu, Cheng-Ming Hsu, Sheng-Fung Lin


Cellular senescence is a specialized form of growth arrest that is generally irreversible. Upregulated p16, p53, and p21 expression and silencing of E2F target genes have been characterized to promote the establishment of senescence. It can be further aided by the transcriptional repression of proliferation-associated genes by the action of HP1?, HMGA, and DNMT proteins to produce a repressive chromatin environment. Therefore, senescence has been suggested to functions as a natural brake for tumor development and plays a critical role in tumor suppression and aging.

Methodology/Principal Findings

An in vitro senescence model has been established by using K562 cells treated with 50 nM doxorubicin (DOX). Since p53 and p16 are homozygously deleted in the K562 cells, the DOX-induced senescence in K562 cells ought to be independent of p53 and p16-pRb pathways. Indeed, no change in the expression of the typical senescence-associated premalignant cell markers in the DOX-induced senescent K562 cells was found. MicroRNA profiling revealed upregulated miR-375 in DOX-induced senescent K562 cells. Treatment with miR-375 inhibitor was able to reverse the proliferation ability suppressed by DOX (p<0.05) and overexpression of miR-375 suppressed the normal proliferation of K562 cells. Upregulated miR-375 expression was associated with downregulated expression of 14-3-3zeta and SP1 genes. Autophagy was also investigated since DOX treatment was able to induce cells entering senescence and eventually lead to cell death. Among the 24 human autophagy-related genes examined, a 12-fold increase of ATG9B at day 4 and a 20-fold increase of ATG18 at day 2 after DOX treatment were noted.


This study has demonstrated that in the absence of p53 and p16, the induction of senescence by DOX was associated with upregulation of miR-375 and autophagy initiation. The anti-proliferative function of miR-375 is possibly exerted, at least in part, by targeting 14-3-3zeta and SP1 genes.