• Mechanisms of cell senescence: p21 and DNA damage response in aging and longevity
  • Meccanismi di senescenza cellulare: p21 e risposta ai danni al DNA nell'invecchiamento e longevità
  • Gravina, Silvia <1979>


  • BIO/11 Biologia molecolare


  • Theory of aging postulates that aging is a remodeling process where the body of survivors progressively adapts to internal and external damaging agents they are exposed to during several decades. Thus , stress response and adaptation mechanisms play a fundamental role in the aging process where the capability of adaptating effects, certainly, also is related the lifespan of each individual. A key gene linking aging to stress response is indeed p21, an induction of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor which triggers cell growth arrest associated with senescence and damage response and notably is involved in the up-regulation of multiple genes that have been associated with senescence or implicated in age-related . This PhD thesis project that has been performed in collaboration with the Roninson Lab at Ordway Research Institute in Albany, NY had two main aims: -the testing the hypothesis that p21 polymorphisms are involved in longevity -Evaluating age-associated differences in gene expression and transcriptional response to p21 and DNA damage In the first project, trough PCR-sequencing and Sequenom strategies, we we found out that there are about 30 polymorphic variants in the p21 gene. In addition, we found an haplotpype located in -5kb region of the p21 promoter whose frequency is ~ 2 fold higher in centenarians than in the general population (Large-scale analysis of haplotype frequencies is currently in progress). Functional studies I carried out on the promoter highilighted that the ―centenarian‖ haplotype doesn’t affect the basal p21 promoter activity or its response to p53. However, there are many other possible physiological conditions in which the centenarian allele of the p21 promoter may potentially show a different response (IL6, IFN,progesterone, vitamin E, Vitamin D etc). In the second part, project #2, trough Microarrays we seeked to evaluate the differences in gene expression between centenarians, elderly, young in dermal fibroblast cultures and their response to p21 and DNA damage. Microarray analysis of gene expression in dermal fibroblast cultures of individuals of different ages yielded a tentative "centenarian signature". A subset of genes that were up- or downregulated in centenarians showed the same response to ectopic expression of p21, yielding a putative "p21-centenarian" signature. Trough RQ-PCR (as well Microarrays studies whose analysis is in progress) we tested the DNA damage response of the p21-centenarian signature genes showing a correlation stress/aging in additional sets of young and old samples treated with p21-inducing drug doxorubicin thus finding for a subset of of them , a response to stress age-related.


  • 2008-06-03


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Gravina, Silvia (2008) Meccanismi di senescenza cellulare: p21 e risposta ai danni al DNA nell'invecchiamento e longevità, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Oncologia e patologia sperimentale: progetto n. 2 "Patologia sperimentale" , 20 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/996.