The PPARγ-SETD8 axis constitutes an epigenetic, p53-independent checkpoint on p21-mediated cellular senescence

Chieh Tien Shih, Yi Feng Chang, Yi Tung Chen, Chung Pei Ma, Hui Wen Chen, Chang Ching Yang, Juu Chin Lu, Yau Sheng Tsai, Hua Chien Chen, Bertrand Chin Ming Tan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Cellular senescence is a permanent proliferative arrest triggered by genome instability or aberrant growth stresses, acting as a protective or even tumor-suppressive mechanism. While several key aspects of gene regulation have been known to program this cessation of cell growth, the involvement of the epigenetic regulation has just emerged but remains largely unresolved. Using a systems approach that is based on targeted gene profiling, we uncovered known and novel chromatin modifiers with putative link to the senescent state of the cells. Among these, we identified SETD8 as a new target as well as a key regulator of the cellular senescence signaling. Knockdown of SETD8 triggered senescence induction in proliferative culture, irrespectively of the p53 status of the cells; ectopic expression of this epigenetic writer alleviated the extent doxorubicin-induced cellular senescence. This repressive effect of SETD8 in senescence was mediated by directly maintaining the silencing mark H4K20me1 at the locus of the senescence switch gene p21. Further in support of this regulatory link, depletion of p21 reversed this SETD8-mediated cellular senescence. Additionally, we found that PPARγ acts upstream and regulates SETD8 expression in proliferating cells. Downregulation of PPARγ coincided with the senescence induction, while its activation inhibited the progression of this process. Viewed together, our findings delineated a new epigenetic pathway through which the PPARγ-SETD8 axis directly silences p21 expression and consequently impinges on its senescence-inducing function. This implies that SETD8 may be part of a cell proliferation checkpoint mechanism and has important implications in antitumor therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-813
Number of pages17
JournalAging Cell
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Aug

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ageing
  • Cell Biology

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