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Cancer Res. 1990 Apr 15;50(8):2215-20.

Cellular F-actin levels as a marker for cellular transformation: relationship to cell division and differentiation.

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  • 1Department of Urology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City 73190.


Transformation is associated with profound structural and quantitative changes in the cytoskeleton. Herein we report studies using F-actin, a major cytoskeletal protein, as a quantitative marker for transformation cells, focusing on separating the effects of the cell cycle, cell differentiation, and transformation. The model system for these studies consisted of three lymphoblastic cell lines, one untransformed line (RPMI) and two transformed lines, one (HL-60) of which can be induced to differentiate and the other (Daudi) which cannot. The relation of F-actin levels to cell cycle was studied by flow cytometry with the use of fluorescein-phalloidin to label F-actin and propidium iodide to label DNA. F-actin levels in transformed Daudi and HL-60 lines were only two-thirds that of the untransformed RPMI cells. Histograms of the distribution of F-actin showed that the transformed lines consisted of two cell populations, one having an F-actin content near that of untransformed cells and the other having much less. Cell cycle analysis showed that F-actin in untransformed cells increased 10-15% as cells entered the S compartment, remaining approximately constant through G2 + M phases of the cell cycle, but in transformed cells the major increase in F-actin occurred during G2 + M phase. Double-label studies with rhodamine-phalloidin for F-actin and KI-67 monoclonal antibody for dividing cells (cells at late G1, S, G2, and M) measured with quantitative fluorescence image analysis showed that the mean F-actin content of dividing cells was twice that of nondividing cells. These results suggested that most of the cell division-related F-actin increase occurred during late G1 phase in untransformed cells. Differentiation of HL-60 cells with dimethyl sulfoxide or retinoic acid normalized the F-actin content of the nondividing cell population, but dimethyl sulfoxide and retinoic acid produced no detectable change in F-actin in the undifferentiable Daudi cells. A tumor promoter (12-O-tetradecanoylphorphol-13-acetate) inhibits differentiation of hematopoietic cells, resulted in a 32% decrease in the mean F-actin content of RPMI cells due to the appearance of a new subpopulation of low F-actin content. The 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate-induced changes reversed slowly after removal of 12-O-tetradecanolyphorbol-13-acetate but more rapidly in the presence of retinoic acid. These results indicate that F-actin quantification can serve as a marker for cellular transformation and provides a tool for studying the mechanisms of cellular differentiation that may lead to a better understanding of the oncogenic process.

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