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Senescence onset at the G1/S cell cycle checkpoint


DNA damage (single or double-strand breaks) triggers adapted cellular responses. These responses are elicited through signalling pathways, which activate cell cycle checkpoints and basically lead to three cellular fates: cycle arrest promoting DNA repair, senescence (permanent arrest) or cell death. Cellular senescence is known for having a tumour-suppressive function and its regulation arouses a growing scientific interest. Here, we advance a qualitative model covering DNA damage response pathways, focusing on G1/S checkpoint enforcement, supposedly more sensitive to arrest than G2/M checkpoint.

We define a discrete, logical model encompassing ATM (ataxia telangiectasia mutated) and ATR (ATM and Rad3-related) pathways activation upon DNA damage, as well as G1/S checkpoint main components. It also includes the stress responsive protein p38MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase 14) known to be involved in the regulation of senescence. The model has four outcomes that convey alternative cell fates: proliferation, (transient) cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and senescence. Different levels of DNA damage are considered, defined by distinct combinations of single and double-strand breaks. Each leads to a single stable state denoting the cell fate adopted upon this specific damage. A range of model perturbations corresponding to gene loss-of-function or gain-of-function is compared to experimental mutations.

As a step towards an integrative model of DNA-damage response pathways to better cover the onset of senescence, our model focuses on G1/S checkpoint enforcement. This model qualitatively agrees with most experimental observations, including experiments involving mutations. Furthermore, it provides some predictions.

C. Chaouiya

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