Telomere-Mitochondrion Links Contribute to Induction of Senescence in MCF-7 Cells after Carbon-Ion Irradiation


Department of Heavy Ion Radiation Medicine, Institute of Modern Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Gansu Province, China


The effects of carbon-ion irradiation on cancer cell telomere function have not been comprehensively studied. In our previous report cancer cells with telomere dysfunction were more sensitive to carbon-ion irradiation, but the underlying mechanisms remained unclear. Here we found that telomerase activity was suppressed by carbon-ion irradiation via hTERT down-regulation. Inhibition of telomere activity by MST-312 further increased cancer cell radiosensitivity to carbon-ion radiation. hTERT suppression caused by either carbon-ion irradiation or MST-312 impaired mitochondrial function, as indicated by decreased membrane potential, mtDNA copy number, mitochondrial mass, total ATP levels and elevated reactive oxygen species (ROS). PGC-1 expression was repressed after carbion-ion irradiation, and hTERT inhibition by MST-312 could further exacerbate this effect. Lowering the mitochondrial ROS level by MitoTEMPO could partially counteract the induction of cellular senescence induced by carbon-ion radiation and MST-312 incubation. Taken together, the current data suggest that telomere-mitochondrion links play a role in the induction of senescence in MCF-7 cells after carbon-ion irradiation.