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Cell Growth Differ. 1993 Jun;4(6):483-93.

Preferential gene expression in quiescent human lung fibroblasts.

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  • 1Oncology Research Laboratory, Winthrop University Hospital, Mineola, New York 11501.


The exit from the proliferative cell cycle into a reversible quiescence (G0) is an active process that is not yet well understood at the molecular level. Investigation of G0-specific gene expression is an important step in studying the mechanism regulating the entrance to quiescence. Using the human embryo lung fibroblast (WI38) as a model system, we have isolated complementary DNA clones that are expressed at a higher level in quiescent cells than in logarithmically growing cells. We have identified complementary DNAs from eight genes including collagen alpha 1(VI), collagen alpha 1(III), decorin, complement C1r, collagen alpha 1(I), collagen alpha 2(I), and two novel genes, Q6 and Q10. We have named this class of quiescence-inducible genes quiescins. Expression of these genes was induced just as proliferation slowed, as indicated by the level of histone H2B mRNA, [3H]-thymidine incorporation, and cell number. The level of expression of the novel genes, Q6 and Q10, increased at the same time as the other genes. Q6 has two mRNAs of 3 and 4 kb, whereas Q10 mRNA is about 1.0 kb. The expression of the quiescins was not induced by blocking the cell cycle in S phase with aphidicolin or in G1 with lovastatin. However, the genes were highly induced by trypsinization or scraping of the cells during logarithmic growth. This induction was not blocked by inhibitors of RNA synthesis. The expression of decorin and Q6 was very low in SV40-transformed cells (VA13) either in logarithmic growth or at high density, whereas the gene Q10 was expressed more highly in VA13 than in WI38 cells. The finding that expression of some components of the extracellular matrix is induced as cells enter G0 suggests that they may have a role in both the induction and the maintenance of the quiescent state. The quiescins will serve as molecular markers for the investigation of mechanisms that regulate the onset of quiescence.

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