Specific alterations in the pattern of histone-3 synthesis during conversion of human leukemic cells to terminally differentiated cells in culture


  • Panayotis Pantazis,

    Corresponding author
    1. The Center for Blood Research, 800 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA
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  • William M. Bonner

    1. Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology, DTP, DCT, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda. MD 20205, USA
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*To whom offprint requests should be sent


Abstract. The presence of nano- to micromolar concentrations of 12-0-tetradecanoyl-phorbol-13-acetate (TPA) in suspension cultures of human promyelocytic leukemia cells, HL-60, or human monocytic leukemia cells, THP-1, resulted in the appearance of macrophage-like cells attached to the substratum. The terminally TPA-differentiated cells continued to synthesize histones at a low rate even though DNA replication had ceased. The pattern of synthesis of histone variants in differentiated cells differed from that in undifferentiated cells and resembled that of quiescent or density-arrested cells. In undifferentiated cells, all three histone-H3 variants are synthesized, while in quiescent cells, only the H3.3 variant is synthesized. When TPA-differentiated macrophages were placed in normal medium, the pattern of histone synthesis was not altered, thus substantiating previous findings that the differentiation is irreversible. Further, TPA-differentiated macrophages and macrophages isolated from a normal human donor exhibited identical pattern of histone synthesis. Altogether, the results indicate that changes in the synthetic rates of histones during the TPA-induced maturation of human leukemic cells is not directly due to TPA or terminal cell differentiation per se but is due to the cessation of cell proliferation and DNA replication.