Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Nanoscale Science and Engineering


Nanoscale Engineering

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, xiv, 129 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

J. Andres Melendez

Committee Members

Benoit Boivin, Tom Begley, David Jourd'heuil, Nadine Hempel, Mohamed Trebak


Cells, Cytology, Interleukin-1, Calcium, Cellular signal transduction, Oxidation-reduction reaction

Subject Categories

Nanoscience and Nanotechnology


Cellular senescence has evolved as a protective mechanism to arrest growth of cells with oncogenic potential. While senescent cells have lost the ability to divide, they remain metabolically active and adapt a deleterious senescence associated secretory phenotype (SASP) central to the progression of several age-associated disease pathologies. The SASP is mechanistically regulated by the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1α) whose expression and activity is responsive to the senescence associated (SA) oxidant production and the accompanying disruption of calcium (Ca2+) homeostasis. Using primary IMR-90 human fetal lung fibroblasts as a model of replicative senescence, we explored the molecular underpinnings driving Ca2+ dysregulation in senescent cells. We establish that the redox-responsive Transient Receptor Potential TRPC6 channel is compromised due to desensitization owing to SA increases in steady state hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) production. SA dysregulation of Ca2+ is also accompanied by loss of response to H2O2-induced Ca2+ influx that can be rescued with catalase pre-treatments. Senescent cells are also insensitive to Ca2+ entry induced by hyperforin, a specific activator of TRPC6, that can be restored by catalase pre-treatments, further suggesting redox regulation of TRPC6 in senescence. Inhibition of TRPC6 channel activity restores the ability of senescent cells to respond to peroxide-induced Ca2+ in addition to suppressing SASP gene expression. Furthermore, mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling regulates SASP by means of modulating TRPC6 channel expression. Together, our findings provide compelling evidence that redox and mTOR-mediated regulation of TRPC6 channel modulate SASP gene expression. Further, the gain-of-function mutation of TRPC6 has pathological implications in several chronic pathologies and renders it a viable target in age-associated diseases.