N6-Methyladenosine (m6A) messenger RNA methylation is a well-known epitranscriptional regulatory mechanism affecting central biological processes, but its function in human cellular senescence remains uninvestigated. Here, we found that levels of both m6A RNA methylation and the methyltransferase METTL3 were reduced in prematurely senescent human mesenchymal stem cell (hMSC) models of progeroid syndromes. Transcriptional profiling of m6A modifications further identified MIS12, for which m6A modifications were reduced in both prematurely senescent hMSCs and METTL3-deficient hMSCs. Knockout of METTL3 accelerated hMSC senescence whereas overexpression of METTL3 rescued the senescent phenotypes. Mechanistically, loss of m6A modifications accelerated the turnover and decreased the expression of MIS12 mRNA while knockout of MIS12 accelerated cellular senescence. Furthermore, m6A reader IGF2BP2 was identified as a key player in recognizing and stabilizing m6A-modified MIS12 mRNA. Taken together, we discovered that METTL3 alleviates hMSC senescence through m6A modification-dependent stabilization of the MIS12 transcript, representing a novel epitranscriptional mechanism in premature stem cell senescence.
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.