Depletion of SIRT6 causes cellular senescence, DNA damage, and telomere dysfunction in human chondrocytes

Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2015 Aug;23(8):1412-20. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2015.03.024. Epub 2015 Mar 26.


Objective: SIRT6, a member of the sirtuin family of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD(+))-dependent protein deacetylases, has been implicated as a key factor in aging-related diseases. However, the role of SIRT6 in chondrocytes has not been fully explored. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of SIRT6 in human chondrocytes by inhibiting SIRT6 in vitro.

Design: First, the localization of SIRT6 and proliferation cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) in human cartilages was examined by immunohistochemistry. Next, SIRT6 was depleted by RNA interference (RNAi), and the effect of SIRT6 depletion on changes in gene expression, protein levels, proliferation, and senescence in human chondrocytes was assessed. Furthermore, to detect DNA damage and telomere dysfunction, γH2AX foci and telomere dysfunction-induced foci (TIFs) were examined using immunofluorescence microscopy. The protein levels of two mediators for DNA damage induced-senescence, p16 and p21, were examined by western blotting.

Results: Immunohistochemical analysis showed SIRT6 was preferentially expressed in the superficial zone chondrocytes and PCNA-positive cluster-forming chondrocytes in the osteoarthritic cartilage tissue samples. Real-time PCR analysis showed that matrix metalloproteinase 1 (MMP-1) and MMP-13 mRNA were significantly increased by SIRT6 inhibition. Moreover, SIRT6 inhibition significantly reduced proliferation and increased senescence associated β-galactosidase (SA-β-Gal)-positive chondrocytes; it also led to increased p16 levels. Immunofluorescence microscopy showed that γH2AX foci and TIFs were increased by SIRT6 inhibition.

Conclusion: Depletion of SIRT6 in human chondrocytes caused increased DNA damage and telomere dysfunction, and subsequent premature senescence. These findings suggest that SIRT6 plays an important role in the regulation of senescence of human chondrocytes.

Keywords: Chondrocyte; DNA damage; SIRT6; Senescence; Sirtuin; Telomere dysfunction.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cellular Senescence*
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism
  • Chondrocytes / pathology*
  • DNA Damage*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 1 / genetics
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 1 / metabolism
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 13 / genetics
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 13 / metabolism
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / pathology
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sirtuins / deficiency*
  • Sirtuins / genetics
  • Telomere*
  • Up-Regulation
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism


  • H2AX protein, human
  • Histones
  • RNA, Messenger
  • beta-Galactosidase
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 13
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 1
  • SIRT6 protein, human
  • Sirtuins