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A CNIO team discovers that senescence also plays a role in embryo development
Date:11/14/2013

beneficial process, whose goal in adult organisms is to eliminate damaged cells", says Serrano, "what happens is that when we get old there are more damaged cells and consequently there is more senescence". In other words, blaming senescence for ageing is like blaming firefighters for fires just because they are always next to a fire.

The two new articles published in Cell offer a new perspective on the concept of senescence. The researchers have not only detected senescence in the embryo: they have also identified the genes that activate and regulate the process, and have studied what happens when they prevent senescence experimentally. To distinguish senescence as a defence mechanism from senescence in normal embryonic development, they term the latter process programmed senescence.

Furthermore, they conclude with a provocative hypothesis: senescence appeared during evolution as a developmental process and, later on, the invention was adapted as a defence mechanism for adult organisms. "Conceptually, we add cellular senescence to the collection of processes that contribute to embryonic development", say the authors in Cell. "This opens up the possibility that cellular senescence originated during evolution as an embryonic tissue-remodelling process, a function that later evolved to become a damage and stress response".

The CNIO authors worked with mouse and human embryos, whilst the CRG team worked with chicken and mouse embryos, and they observed senescence in the three species. They highlight that this "supports the idea that senescence is widespread during the embryonic development of vertebrates".

Embryonic transmutations

Senescence leaves a characteristic chemical signature in cells. CNIO researchers looked for it specifically in two embryo structures: the mesonephros and the endolymphatic sac. The mesonephros is a tissue that functions as a kidney during development and later almost completely disappears; what remai
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Contact: Nuria Noriega
comunicacion@cnio.es
Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncologicas (CNIO)
Source:Eurekalert

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