Cell senescence, apoptosis and DNA damage cooperate in the remodeling processes accounting for heart morphogenesis
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AuthorLorda Diez, Carlos Ignacio; Solis-Mancilla, Michelle E.; Sánchez Fernández, Cristina; García-Porrero Pérez, Juan Antonio; Hurlé González, Juan Mario; Montero Simón, Juan Antonio
During embryonic development, organ morphogenesis requires major tissue rearrangements that are tightly regulated at the genetic level. A large number of studies performed in recent decades assigned a central role to programmed cell death for such morphogenetic tissue rearrangements that often sculpt the shape of embryonic organs. However, accumulating evidence indicates that far from being the only factor responsible for sculpting organ morphology, programmed cell death is accompanied by other tissue remodeling events that ensure the outcome of morphogenesis. In this regard, cell senescence has been recently associated with morphogenetic degenerative embryonic processes as an early tissue remodeling event in development of the limbs, kidney and inner ear. Here, we have explored cell senescence by monitoring ?-galactosidase activity during embryonic heart development where programmed cell death is believed to exert an important morphogenetic function. We report the occurrence of extensive cell senescence foci during heart morphogenesis. These foci overlap spatially and temporally with the areas of programmed cell death that are associated with remodeling of the outflow tract to build the roots of the great arteries and with the septation of cardiac cavities. qPCR analysis allowed us to identify a gene expression profile characteristic of the so-called senescence secretory associated phenotype in the remodeling outflow tract of the embryonic heart. In addition, we confirmed local upregulation of numerous tumor suppressor genes including p21, p53, p63, p73 and Btg2. Interestingly, the areas of cell senescence were also accompanied by intense lysosomal activation and non-apoptotic DNA damage revealed by ?H2AX immunolabeling. Considering the importance of sustained DNA damage as a triggering factor for cell senescence and apoptosis, we propose the coordinated contribution of DNA damage, senescence and apoptotic cell death to assure tissue remodeling in the developing vertebrate heart.