• aging;
  • Akt signaling;
  • cell cycle;
  • ES cells;
  • p53;
  • Rb;
  • senescence;
  • telomerase;
  • telomere


Most mammalian cells when placed in culture will undergo a limited number of cell divisions before entering an unresponsive non-proliferating state termed senescence. However, several pathways that are activated singly or in concert can allow cells to bypass senescence at least for limited periods. These include the telomerase pathway required to maintain telomere ends, the p53 and Rb pathways required to direct senescence in response to DNA damage, telomere shortening and mitogenic signals, and the insulin-like growth factor – Akt pathway that may regulate lifespan and cell proliferation. In this review, we summarize recent findings related to these pathways in embryonic stem (ES) cells and suggest that ES cells are immortal because these pathways are tightly regulated.