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Start date: 01 Apr 2009, End date: 31 Mar 2015 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"In recent years, we have made significant contributions to the understanding of the tumour suppressors p53, p16INK4a, and ARF, particularly in relation with cellular senescence and aging. The current project is motivated by two hypothesis: 1) that the INK4/ARF locus is a sensor of epigenetic damage and this is at the basis of its activation by oncogenes and aging; and, 2) that the accumulation of cellular damage and stress is at the basis of both cancer and aging, and consequently ""anti-damage genes"", such as tumour suppressors, simultaneously counteract both cancer and aging. With regard to the INK4/ARF locus, the project includes: 1.1) the generation of null mice for the Regulatory Domain (RD) thought to be essential for the proper regulation of the locus; 1.2) the study of the INK4/ARF anti-sense transcription and its importance for the assembly of Polycomb repressive complexes; 1.3) the generation of mice carrying the human INK4/ARF locus to analyze, among other aspects, whether the known differences between the human and murine loci are ""locus autonomous""; and, 1.4) to analyze the INK4/ARF locus in the process of epigenetic reprogramming both from ES cells to differentiated cells and, conversely, from differentiated cells to induced-pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. With regard to the impact of ""anti-damage genes"" on cancer and aging, the project includes: 2.1) the analysis of the aging of super-INK4/ARF mice and super-p53 mice; 2.2) we have generated super-PTEN mice and we will examine whether PTEN not only confers cancer resistance but also anti-aging activity; and, finally, 2.3) we have generated super-SIRT1 mice, which is among the best-characterized anti-aging genes in non-mammalian model systems (where it is named Sir2) involved in protection from metabolic damage, and we will study the cancer and aging of these mice. Together, this project will significantly advance our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying cancer and aging."
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