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Eur J Cell Biol. 2009 Dec;88(12):779-85. doi: 10.1016/j.ejcb.2009.06.005. Epub 2009 Sep 2.

Thymidine kinase 1 expression defines an activated G1 state of the cell cycle as revealed with site-specific antibodies and ArrayScan assays.

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Biology Department, Oncology, Nerviano Medical Sciences, Nerviano, Italy.


Thymidine kinase 1 (TK1) is a DNA salvage enzyme involved in the synthesis of thymidine triphosphate needed during S phase. Although TK1 has been utilized as a cell proliferation marker for many years no well-characterized antibodies are available. The preparation and properties of two types of poly- and monoclonal anti-TK1 peptide antibodies are described and they are used to determine the levels of TK1 in intact cells. Expression of TK1, c-fos, cyclin B1, Ki67, phosphorylated histone H3, phosphorylated ribosomal protein S6, as well as bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation in human normal dermal fibroblast cultures were studied with high-content ArrayScan fluorescence microscopy. The levels of TK1 increased 6-7h after serum re-addition to starved cells as they passed through G1, S and G2/M phases, which was earlier than the increase in Ki67 protein levels and before BrdU incorporation was detected. Thus, a population of activated G1 cells with high TK1 and low Ki67 expression could be identified and their role in cell proliferation can now be clarified.

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