Cytoplasmic chromatin fragments-from mechanisms to therapeutic potential

Elife. 2021 Jan 29;10:e63728. doi: 10.7554/eLife.63728.


Senescent cells, damaged cells that permanently exit the cell cycle, play important roles in development, tissue homeostasis, and tumorigenesis. Although many of these roles are beneficial in acute responses to stress and damage, the persistent accumulation of senescent cells is associated with many chronic diseases through their proinflammatory senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). SASP expression is linked to DNA damage; however, the mechanisms that control the SASP are incompletely understood. More recently, it has been shown that senescent cells shed fragments of nuclear chromatin into the cytoplasm, so called cytoplasmic chromatin fragments (CCF). Here, we provide an overview of the current evidence linking DNA damage to the SASP through the formation of CCF. We describe mechanisms of CCF generation and their functional role in senescent cells, with emphasis on therapeutic potential.

Keywords: aging; cell biology; chromosomes; cytoplasmic chromatin fragments; epigenetics; gene expression; mitochondria; senescence.