Human diploid fibroblasts (HDFs) undergo a limited number of population doublings in vitro and are widely used as a model of cellular aging. Despite growing evidence that cellular aging occurs as a result of altered gene expression, little is known about the activity of transcription factors that regulate gene expression in aging cells. Here we survey the relevant literature regarding altered gene expression and the role of transcription factors during cellular aging, focusing upon the serum response factor (SRF). SRF is hyperphosphorylated in senescent HDFs and fails to bind to the serum-response element in the c-fos promoter. Differential phosphorylation during replicative aging may contribute, at least in part, to the altered activity of SRF and possibly other transcription factors and to subsequent changes in the expression of serum-regulated genes in senescent HDFs.

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