In response to progressive telomere shortening in successive cell divisions, normal somatic cells enter senescence, during which they cease to proliferate irreversibly and undergo dramatic changes in gene expression. Senescence can also be activated by various types of stressful stimuli, including aberrant oncogenic signaling, oxidative stress, and DNA damage. Because of the limited proliferative capacity imposed by senescence, as well as the ability of senescent cells to influence neighboring non-senescent cells, senescence has been proposed to play an important role in tumorigenesis and to contribute to aging. Considerable effort has been put into elucidating the molecular mechanisms of senescence, including the signals that trigger senescence, the molecular pathways by which cells enter senescence, and evidence that supports its role in tumorigenesis and aging.
Copyright 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.