Senescence induced by RECQL4 dysfunction contributes to Rothmund-Thomson syndrome features in mice

H. Lu, E. F. Fang, P. Sykora, T. Kulikowicz, Y. Zhang, K. G. Becker, D. L. Croteau, V. A. Bohr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Cellular senescence refers to irreversible growth arrest of primary eukaryotic cells, a process thought to contribute to agingrelated degeneration and disease. Deficiency of RecQ helicase RECQL4 leads to Rothmund-Thomson syndrome (RTS), and we have investigated whether senescence is involved using cellular approaches and a mouse model. We first systematically investigated whether depletion of RECQL4 and the other four human RecQ helicases, BLM, WRN, RECQL1 and RECQL5, impacts the proliferative potential of human primary fibroblasts. BLM-, WRN- and RECQL4-depleted cells display increased staining of senescence-associated b-galactosidase (SA-b-gal), higher expression of p16INK4a or/and p21WAF1 and accumulated persistent DNA damage foci. These features were less frequent in RECQL1- and RECQL5-depleted cells. We have mapped the region in RECQL4 that prevents cellular senescence to its N-terminal region and helicase domain. We further investigated senescence features in an RTS mouse model, Recql4-deficient mice (Recql4HD). Tail fibroblasts from Recql4HD showed increased SA-b-gal staining and increased DNA damage foci. We also identified sparser tail hair and fewer blood cells in Recql4HD mice accompanied with increased senescence in tail hair follicles and in bone marrow cells. In conclusion, dysfunction of RECQL4 increases DNA damage and triggers premature senescence in both human and mouse cells, which may contribute to symptoms in RTS patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1227
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Premature aging
  • RECQ4
  • RECQL4
  • RecQ helicase
  • Rothmund-Thomson syndrome
  • Senescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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