Senescence is a state of permanent growth arrest and is a pivotal part of the antitumorigenic barrier in vivo. Although the tumor suppressor activities of p53 and pRb family proteins are essential for the induction of senescence, molecular mechanisms by which these proteins induce senescence are still not clear. Using time-lapse live-cell imaging, we demonstrate here that normal human diploid fibroblasts (HDFs) exposed to various senescence-inducing stimuli undergo a mitosis skip before entry into permanent cell-cycle arrest. This mitosis skip is mediated by both p53-dependent premature activation of APC/C(Cdh1) and pRb family protein-dependent transcriptional suppression of mitotic regulators. Importantly, mitotic skipping is necessary and sufficient for senescence induction. p16 is only required for maintenance of senescence. Analysis of human nevi also suggested the role of mitosis skip in in vivo senescence. Our findings provide decisive evidence for the molecular basis underlying the induction and maintenance of cellular senescence.
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