During senescence, cells undergo distinctive biochemical and morphological changes and become dysfunctional. MiRNAs are involved in the senescence process and specific miRNAs can localize to mitochondria (mitomiRs). We hypothesized that part of the typical alterations of senescence may depends on mitomiRs deregulation. Therefore, we thoroughly explored the phenotype of human endothelial cells undergoing replicative senescence (sHUVECs) and observed elongated/branched mitochondria, accumulation of autophagic vacuoles (AVs), increased ROS and IL-1β production and reduced expression of Bcl-2 compared to younger cells (yHUVECs). Despite these pro-apoptotic features, sHUVECs are more resistant to serum deprivation, conceivably due to development of pro-survival strategies such as upregulation of Bcl-xL and Survivin. We demonstrate that mitomiR-181a, -34a, and -146a, are overexpressed and localize to mitochondria in sHUVECs compared with yHUVECs and that they: i) down-regulate Bcl-2, ii) induce permeability transition pore opening and activation of caspase-1 and 3, iii) affect sensitivity to apoptosis and iv) promote the conversion of LC3-I to LC3-II. Overall, we document for the first time that some mitomiRs can act as mediators of the multiple but functionally linked biochemical and morphological changes that characterize aging cells and that they can promote different cellular outcomes according to the senescence status of the cell.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology