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Cancer Res. 1998 May 1;58(9):2036-41.

Absence of a radiation-induced first-cycle G1-S arrest in p53+ human tumor cells synchronized by mitotic selection.

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Department of Cancer Cell Biology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


It is well known that normal human diploid fibroblasts undergo a significant, p53-dependent arrest in the G1 phase of the cell cycle after exposure to ionizing radiation. The presence and magnitude of a G1 arrest in human tumor cell lines, however, has been controversial, particularly in cells derived from solid tumors and irradiated during exponential growth. To examine this question more precisely, we synchronized cells by mitotic selection and irradiated them in very early G1 prior to any of the described G1 checkpoints. Progression of cells from G1 into the S phase was monitored by autoradiographic measurement of cumulative labeling indices and by flow cytometric analysis. Three different human tumor cell lines confirmed as expressing normal p53 function were examined, i.e., lines derived from an adenocarcinoma of the colon (RKO), a breast cancer (MCF-7), and a squamous cell carcinoma (SCC61). Following irradiation with 4-8 Gy, there was a transient delay in progression from G1 into S phase, lasting approximately 2 h, and in two of the three cell lines (RKO and MCF-7), a small fraction of cells (5-8%) never entered the first S phase. Although there was no evidence for a prolonged G1 arrest, the expected G2 delay was observed in all three cell lines. When irradiated RKO cells were resynchronized at the next mitosis, approximately 30% of the cells did not enter the second S phase. This latter finding is consistent with earlier reports on the kinetics of radiation-induced reproductive failure in mammalian cells. These results indicate that cells derived from human solid tumors that express normal p53 may respond to irradiation quite differently than do normal cells in terms of G1 checkpoint control.

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