Activated p53 protein regulates its downstream genes and subsequently inhibits malignant transformation by inducing cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, DNA repair, and senescence. However, genes involved in the p53-mediated senescence pathway are not yet fully elucidated.
Through the screening of two genome-wide expression profile data sets, one for cells in which exogenous p53 was introduced and the other for senescent fibroblasts, we have identified chloride channel accessory 2 (CLCA2) as a p53-inducible senescence-associated gene. CLCA2 was remarkably induced by replicative senescence as well as oxidative stress in a p53-dependent manner.
We also found that ectopically expressed CLCA2 induced cellular senescence, and the down-regulation of CLCA2 by small interfering RNA caused inhibition of oxidative stress-induced senescence. Interestingly, the reduced expression of CLCA2 was frequently observed in various kinds of cancers including prostate cancer, whereas its expression was not affected in precancerous prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia. Thus, our findings suggest a crucial role of p53/CLCA2-mediated senescence induction as a barrier for malignant transformation.