Generation of a p16 Reporter Mouse and Its Use to Characterize and Target p16high Cells In Vivo

Cell Metab. 2020 Nov 3;32(5):814-828.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2020.09.006. Epub 2020 Sep 18.


Cell senescence plays a key role in age-associated organ dysfunction, but the in vivo pathogenesis is largely unclear. Here, we generated a p16-CreERT2-tdTomato mouse model to analyze the in vivo characteristics of p16high cells at a single-cell level. We found tdTomato-positive p16high cells detectable in all organs, which were enriched with age. We also found that these cells failed to proliferate and had half-lives ranging from 2.6 to 4.2 months, depending on the tissue examined. Single-cell transcriptomics in the liver and kidneys revealed that p16high cells were present in various cell types, though most dominant in hepatic endothelium and in renal proximal and distal tubule epithelia, and that these cells exhibited heterogeneous senescence-associated phenotypes. Further, elimination of p16high cells ameliorated nonalcoholic steatohepatitis-related hepatic lipidosis and immune cell infiltration. Our new mouse model and single-cell analysis provide a powerful resource to enable the discovery of previously unidentified senescence functions in vivo.

Keywords: NASH; aging; p16Ink4a; senescence; single-cell transcriptomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cellular Senescence
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Biological
  • Single-Cell Analysis


  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16