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Cancer Res. 2004 Apr 1;64(7):2371-81.

Chromatin assembly factor-1, a marker of clinical value to distinguish quiescent from proliferating cells.

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Laboratories of Nuclear Dynamics and Genome Plasticity, Curie Institute/CNRS, Paris, France.


Histone synthesis and chromatin assembly are mainly associated with DNA replication and are thus intimately involved in cell cycle regulation. The expression of key components involved in these events in human cells was studied in relation to cell-proliferative status. Among several chromatin assembly factors, chromatin assembly factor (CAF)-1 stood out as the most discriminating marker of the proliferative state. We show, using both immunofluorescence and Western blot analysis, that the expression of both CAF-1 large subunits, p150 and p60, is massively down-regulated during quiescence in several cell lines. Upon exit from the quiescent state, the CAF-1 subunits are re-expressed early, before DNA replication. The amounts of either total or chromatin-associated pools of CAF-1 proteins correlate directly with cell proliferation. Regulation of CAF-1 expression is partly controlled at the RNA level, as shown by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR and Northern blot experiments. Biological material from benign and malignant human breast tumors analyzed by immunocytochemistry and immunohistochemistry exhibits a strong positive correlation between CAF-1 p60 expression and the following proliferation markers: S-phase fraction (r = 0.84, P < 0.0001); Ki-67 (r = 0.94, P < 0.0001); and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (r = 0.95, P = 0.0001). We discuss the advantages of using CAF-1 to assess cell proliferation. High CAF-1 p60 levels are also shown to be associated with various prognostic factors. Our data highlight the precise association of CAF-1 expression with the proliferative state and validate the use of this factor as a useful proliferation marker and prognostic indicator in malignant and benign breast lesions.

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