Opposing effects of Ets and Id proteins on p16INK4a expression during cellular senescence

Nature. 2001 Feb 22;409(6823):1067-70. doi: 10.1038/35059131.


The p16INK4a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor is implicated in replicative senescence, the state of permanent growth arrest provoked by cumulative cell divisions or as a response to constitutive Ras-Raf-MEK signalling in somatic cells. Some contribution to senescence presumably underlies the importance of p16INK4a as a tumour suppressor but the mechanisms regulating its expression in these different contexts remain unknown. Here we demonstrate a role for the Ets1 and Ets2 transcription factors based on their ability to activate the p16INK4a promoter through an ETS-binding site and their patterns of expression during the lifespan of human diploid fibroblasts. The induction of p16INK4a by Ets2, which is abundant in young human diploid fibroblasts, is potentiated by signalling through the Ras-Raf-MEK kinase cascade and inhibited by a direct interaction with the helix-loop-helix protein Id1 (ref. 11). In senescent cells, where the Ets2 levels and MEK signalling decline, the marked increase in p16INK4a expression is consistent with the reciprocal reduction of Id1 and accumulation of Ets1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cellular Senescence / genetics*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / biosynthesis
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / genetics*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Fibroblasts
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Inhibitor of Differentiation Protein 1
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinase 1*
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System
  • Mice
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Protein c-ets-1
  • Proto-Oncogene Protein c-ets-2
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / physiology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ets
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-raf / metabolism
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Trans-Activators / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • ras Proteins / metabolism


  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • ERF protein, human
  • ETS1 protein, human
  • ETS2 protein, human
  • Ets1 protein, mouse
  • Ets2 protein, mouse
  • ID1 protein, human
  • Idb1 protein, mouse
  • Inhibitor of Differentiation Protein 1
  • Proto-Oncogene Protein c-ets-1
  • Proto-Oncogene Protein c-ets-2
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ets
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-raf
  • MAP Kinase Kinase Kinase 1
  • MAP3K1 protein, human
  • Map3k1 protein, mouse
  • ras Proteins