Priority Research Paper Advance Articles
Acid ceramidase promotes senescent cell survival
- 1 Laboratory of Genetics and Genomics, National Institute on Aging-Intramural Research Program, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21224, USA
- 2 Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience, National Institute on Aging-Intramural Research Program, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21224, USA
Received: January 9, 2021 Accepted: May 18, 2021 Published: June 8, 2021https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.203170
How to Cite
Copyright: © 2021 Munk et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Cellular senescence is linked to chronic age-related diseases including atherosclerosis, diabetes, and neurodegeneration. Compared to proliferating cells, senescent cells express distinct subsets of proteins. In this study, we used cultured human diploid fibroblasts rendered senescent through replicative exhaustion or ionizing radiation to identify proteins differentially expressed during senescence. We identified acid ceramidase (ASAH1), a lysosomal enzyme that cleaves ceramide into sphingosine and fatty acid, as being highly elevated in senescent cells. This increase in ASAH1 levels in senescent cells was associated with a rise in the levels of ASAH1 mRNA and a robust increase in ASAH1 protein stability. Furthermore, silencing ASAH1 in pre-senescent fibroblasts decreased the levels of senescence proteins p16, p21, and p53, and reduced the activity of the senescence-associated β-galactosidase. Interestingly, depletion of ASAH1 in pre-senescent cells sensitized these cells to the senolytics Dasatinib and Quercetin (D+Q). Together, our study indicates that ASAH1 promotes senescence, protects senescent cells, and confers resistance against senolytic drugs. Given that inhibiting ASAH1 sensitizes cells towards senolysis, this enzyme represents an attractive therapeutic target in interventions aimed at eliminating senescent cells.