hnRNP C1/C2 and pur-beta proteins mediate induction of senescence by oligonucleotides homologous to the telomere overhang

Richard E. Mulnix, Ryan T. Pitman, Allison Retzer, Ceyda Bertram, Kavin Arasi, Zachary Crees, Jennifer Girard, Srijayaprakash B. Uppada, Amanda L. Stone, Neelu Puri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background:Experimental disruption of the telomere overhang induces a potent DNA damage response and is the target of newly emerging cancer therapeutics. Introduction of T-oligo, an eleven-base oligonucleotide homologous to the 3′-telomeric overhang, mimics telomere disruption and induces DNA damage responses through activation of p53, p73, p95/Nbs1, E2F1, pRb, and other DNA damage response proteins. ATM (ataxia telangiectasia mutated) was once thought to be the primary driver of T-oligo-induced DNA damage responses; however, recent experiments have highlighted other key proteins that may also play a significant role. Methods: To identify proteins associated with T-oligo, MM-AN cells were treated with biotinylated T-oligo or complementary oligonucleotide, cell lysates were run on SDS-PAGE (sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis), and the protein bands observed after treatment of cells with T-oligo or complementary oligonucleotide were analyzed using mass spectrometry. To study the effect of T-oligo on expression of hnRNP C1/C2 (heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein C1 and C2) and purine-rich element binding proteins (Pur proteins), cells were treated with T-oligo, and immunoblotting experiments were performed. To determine their role in senescence, cells were treated with shRNA (short hairpin ribonucleic acid) against these proteins, and senescence was studied using the senescence associated beta-galactosidase assay. Results: Using mass spectrometry,RNA-binding hnRNP C1/C2 and DNA-binding Pur proteins were found to associate with T-oligo. hnRNP C1/C2 exhibited increased expression (3.6-12.0-fold) in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and in melanoma cells (4.5-5.2-fold), and Pur proteins exhibited increased expression of 2.2-fold in NSCLC and 2.0-fold in melanoma cells after T-oligo treatment. Experimental knockdown of hnRNP C1/C2 and Pur-beta completely abrogated T-oligo induced senescence in both MU melanoma and H358 NSCLC cells. Additionally, knockdown of Pur-beta prevented T-oligo-induced phosphorylation of p53, hypophosphorylation of pRb, and upregulation of E2F1, p21, and p53.Conclusion:These novel findings highlight proteins essential to T-oligo's anticancer effects that may be of interest in telomere biology and cancer therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-32
Number of pages10
JournalOncoTargets and Therapy
StatePublished - Dec 18 2013


  • Melanoma
  • P21
  • P53
  • Prb
  • T-oligo


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