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J Cell Physiol. 1995 Feb;162(2):234-45.

Regulation of human ornithine decarboxylase expression following prolonged quiescence: role for the c-Myc/Max protein complex.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19140.


WI-38 cells can remain quiescent for long periods of time and still be induced to reenter the cell cycle by the addition of fresh serum. However, the longer these cells remain growth arrested, the more time they require to enter S phase. This prolongation of the prereplicative phase has been localized to a point early in G1, after the induction of "immediate early" G1 genes such as c-fos and c-jun but before maximal expression of "early" G1 genes such as ornithine decarboxylase (ODC). Understanding the molecular basis for ODC mRNA induction can therefore provide information about the molecular events which regulate the progression of cells out of long-term quiescence into G1 and subsequently into DNA synthesis. Studies utilizing electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA) of nuclear extracts from short- and long-term quiescent WI-38 cells identified a region of the human ODC promoter at -491 bp to -474 bp which exhibited a protein binding pattern that correlated with the temporal pattern of ODC mRNA expression. The presence of a CACGTG element within this fragment, studies with antibodies against c-Myc and Max, the use of purified recombinant c-Myc protein in the mobility shift assay, and antisense studies suggest that these proteins can specifically bind this portion of the human ODC promoter in a manner consistent with growth-associated modulation of the expression of ODC and other early G1 genes following prolonged quiescence. These studies suggest a role for the c-Myc/Max protein complex in regulating events involved in the progression of cells out of long-term quiescence into G1 and subsequently into S.

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