Positive feedback between p53 and TRF2 during telomere-damage signalling and cellular senescence

Nat Cell Biol. 2010 Dec;12(12):1205-12. doi: 10.1038/ncb2123. Epub 2010 Nov 7.


The telomere-capping complex shelterin protects functional telomeres and prevents the initiation of unwanted DNA-damage-response pathways. At the end of cellular replicative lifespan, uncapped telomeres lose this protective mechanism and DNA-damage signalling pathways are triggered that activate p53 and thereby induce replicative senescence. Here, we identify a signalling pathway involving p53, Siah1 (a p53-inducible E3 ubiquitin ligase) and TRF2 (telomere repeat binding factor 2; a component of the shelterin complex). Endogenous Siah1 and TRF2 were upregulated and downregulated, respectively, during replicative senescence with activated p53. Experimental manipulation of p53 expression demonstrated that p53 induces Siah1 and represses TRF2 protein levels. The p53-dependent ubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation of TRF2 are attributed to the E3 ligase activity of Siah1. Knockdown of Siah1 stabilized TRF2 and delayed the onset of cellular replicative senescence, suggesting a role for Siah1 and TRF2 in p53-regulated senescence. This study reveals that p53, a downstream effector of telomere-initiated damage signalling, also functions upstream of the shelterin complex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cellular Senescence*
  • Fibroblasts
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Telomere / metabolism*
  • Telomeric Repeat Binding Protein 2 / metabolism*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / genetics
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism


  • Nuclear Proteins
  • TP53 protein, human
  • Telomeric Repeat Binding Protein 2
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • seven in absentia proteins