Aberrant activation of p53/p66Shc-mInsc axis increases asymmetric divisions and attenuates proliferation of aged mammary stem cells

Cell Death Differ. 2022 Dec;29(12):2429-2444. doi: 10.1038/s41418-022-01029-5. Epub 2022 Jun 23.


Aging is accompanied by the progressive decline in tissue regenerative capacity and functions of resident stem cells (SCs). Underlying mechanisms, however, remain unclear. Here we show that, during chronological aging, self-renewing mitoses of mammary SCs (MaSCs) are preferentially asymmetric and that their progeny divides less frequently, leading to decreased number of MaSCs and reduced regenerative potential. Underlying mechanisms are investigated in the p66Shc-/- mouse, which exhibits several features of delayed aging, including reduced involution of the mammary gland (MG). p66Shc is a mitochondrial redox sensor that activates a specific p53 transcriptional program, in which the aging-associated p44 isoform of p53 plays a pivotal role. We report here that aged p66Shc-/- MaSCs show increased symmetric divisions, increased proliferation and increased regenerative potential, to an extent reminiscent of young wild-type (WT) MaSCs. Mechanistically, we demonstrate that p66Shc, together with p53: (i) accumulates in the aged MG, (ii) sustains expression of the cell polarity determinant mInscuteable and, concomitantly, (iii) down-regulates critical cell cycle genes (e.g.,: Cdk1 and Cyclin A). Accordingly, overexpression of p53/p44 increases asymmetric divisions and decreases proliferation of young WT MaSCs in a p66Shc-dependent manner and overexpression of mInsc restores WT-like levels of asymmetric divisions in aged p66Shc-/- MaSCs. Notably, deletion of p66Shc has negligible effects in young MaSCs and MG development. These results demonstrate that MG aging is due to aberrant activation of p66Shc, which induces p53/p44 signaling, leading to failure of symmetric divisions, decreased proliferation and reduced regenerative potential of MaSCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Mammary Glands, Animal* / cytology
  • Mice
  • Src Homology 2 Domain-Containing, Transforming Protein 1* / genetics
  • Src Homology 2 Domain-Containing, Transforming Protein 1* / metabolism
  • Stem Cells* / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53* / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53* / metabolism


  • Src Homology 2 Domain-Containing, Transforming Protein 1
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Shc1 protein, mouse