Human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have been generated with varied efficiencies from multiple tissues. Yet, acquiring donor cells is, in most instances, an invasive procedure that requires laborious isolation. Here we present a detailed protocol for generating human iPSCs from exfoliated renal epithelial cells present in urine. This method is advantageous in many circumstances, as the isolation of urinary cells is simple (30 ml of urine are sufficient), cost-effective and universal (can be applied to any age, gender and race). Moreover, the entire procedure is reasonably quick--around 2 weeks for the urinary cell culture and 3-4 weeks for the reprogramming--and the yield of iPSC colonies is generally high--up to 4% using retroviral delivery of exogenous factors. Urinary iPSCs (UiPSCs) also show excellent differentiation potential, and thus represent a good choice for producing pluripotent cells from normal individuals or patients with genetic diseases, including those affecting the kidney.
Aging is a multifactorial process where deterioration of body functions is driven by stochastic damage while counteracted by distinct genetically encoded repair systems. To better understand the genetic component of aging, many studies have addressed the gene and protein expression profiles of various aging model systems engaging different organisms from yeast to human. The recently identified small non-coding miRNAs are potent post-transcriptional regulators that can modify the expression of up to several hundred target genes per single miRNA, similar to transcription factors. Increasing evidence shows that miRNAs contribute to the regulation of most if not all important physiological processes, including aging. However, so far the contribution of miRNAs to age-related and senescence-related changes in gene expression remains elusive. To address this question, we have selected four replicative cell aging models including endothelial cells, replicated CD8+ T cells, renal proximal tubular epithelial cells, and skin fibroblasts. Further included were three organismal aging models including foreskin, mesenchymal stem cells, and CD8+ T cell populations from old and young donors. Using locked nucleic acid-based miRNA microarrays, we identified four commonly regulated miRNAs, miR-17 down-regulated in all seven; miR-19b and miR-20a, down-regulated in six models; and miR-106a down-regulated in five models. Decrease in these miRNAs correlated with increased transcript levels of some established target genes, especially the cdk inhibitor p21/CDKN1A. These results establish miRNAs as novel markers of cell aging in humans.
Telomere-dependent replicative senescence is one of the mechanisms that limit the number of population doublings of normal human cells. By overexpression of telomerase, cells of various origins have been successfully immortalized without changing the phenotype. While a limited number of telomerase-immortalized cells of epithelial origin are available, none of renal origin has been reported so far. Here we have established simple and safe conditions that allow serial passaging of renal proximal tubule epithelial cells (RPTECs) until entry into telomere-dependent replicative senescence. As reported for other cells, senescence of RPTECs is characterized by arrest in G1 phase, shortened telomeres, staining for senescence-associated beta-galactosidase, and accumulation of gamma-H2AX foci. Furthermore, ectopic expression of the catalytic subunit of telomerase (TERT) was sufficient to immortalize these cells. Characterization of immortalized RPTEC/TERT1 cells shows characteristic morphological and functional properties like formation of tight junctions and domes, expression of aminopeptidase N, cAMP induction by parathyroid hormone, sodium-dependent phosphate uptake, and the megalin/cubilin transport system. No genomic instability within up to 90 population doublings has been observed. Therefore, these cells are proposed as a valuable model system not only for cell biology but also for toxicology, drug screening, biogerontology, as well as tissue engineering approaches.
Several pathways modulating longevity and stress resistance converge on translation by targeting ribosomal proteins or initiation factors, but whether this involves modifications of ribosomal RNA is unclear. Here, we show that reduced levels of the conserved RNA methyltransferase NSUN5 increase the lifespan and stress resistance in yeast, worms and flies. Rcm1, the yeast homologue of NSUN5, methylates C2278 within a conserved region of 25S rRNA. Loss of Rcm1 alters the structural conformation of the ribosome in close proximity to C2278, as well as translational fidelity, and favours recruitment of a distinct subset of oxidative stress-responsive mRNAs into polysomes. Thus, rather than merely being a static molecular machine executing translation, the ribosome exhibits functional diversity by modification of just a single rRNA nucleotide, resulting in an alteration of organismal physiological behaviour, and linking rRNA-mediated translational regulation to modulation of lifespan, and differential stress response.
Cellular senescence describes an irreversible growth arrest characterized by distinct morphology, gene expression pattern, and secretory phenotype. The final or intermediate stages of senescence can be reached by different genetic mechanisms and in answer to different external and internal stresses. It has been maintained in the literature but never proven by clearcut experiments that the induction of senescence serves the evolutionary purpose of protecting the individual from development and growth of cancers. This hypothesis was recently scrutinized by new experiments and found to be partly true, but part of the gene activities now known to happen in senescence are also needed for cancer growth, leading to the view that senescence is a double-edged sword in cancer development. In current cancer therapy, cellular senescence is, on the one hand, intended to occur in tumor cells, as thereby the therapeutic outcome is improved, but might, on the other hand, also be induced unintentionally in non-tumor cells, causing inflammation, secondary tumors, and cancer relapse. Importantly, organismic aging leads to accumulation of senescent cells in tissues and organs of aged individuals. Senescent cells can occur transiently, e.g., during embryogenesis or during wound healing, with beneficial effects on tissue homeostasis and regeneration or accumulate chronically in tissues, which detrimentally affects the microenvironment by de- or transdifferentiation of senescent cells and their neighboring stromal cells, loss of tissue specific functionality, and induction of the senescence-associated secretory phenotype, an increased secretory profile consisting of pro-inflammatory and tissue remodeling factors. These factors shape their surroundings toward a pro-carcinogenic microenvironment, which fuels the development of aging-associated cancers together with the accumulation of mutations over time. We are presenting an overview of well-documented stress situations and signals, which induce senescence. Among them, oncogene-induced senescence and stress-induced premature senescence are prominent. New findings about the role of senescence in tumor biology are critically reviewed with respect to new suggestions for cancer therapy leveraging genetic and pharmacological methods to prevent senescence or to selectively kill senescent cells in tumors.
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