Cell cycle analysis of sodium butyrate and hydroxyurea, inducers of ectopic hormone production in HeLa cells

R. J. Fallon, R. P. Cox

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92 Scopus citations


Sodium butyrate and hydroxyurea, effective inhibitors of DNA synthesis in HeLa cells, cause these cells to produce increased levels of the ectopic glycopeptide hormones human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and free α chains for these hormones. The objective of this study was an assessment of the role of modulation of cell cycle events in the action of these two chemical agents. A variety of experimental approaches was employed to obtain a clear view of the drugs' effects on cells located initially in all phases of the cell cycle. Cells in early G1, G2, or M phase at time of addition of either inhibitor were not arrested at early time points, but by 48 hours became collected at a location characteristic for each drug, near the G1‐S phase boundary. Flow microfluorometry (FMF) and thymidine labeling index revealed that butyrate‐treated cells arrested late in G1 phase very close to S phase, while hydroxyurea‐blocked cells continued to early S phase. Both inhibitors prevented cells originally in S phase from reaching mitosis. S cells exposed to hydroxyurea were killed by 48 hours, but those growing in 5 mM butyrate progressed to the end of S or G2 phase where they became irreversibly arrested although not removed from the monolayer. Analysis of the cell cycle location and viability of each subpopulation resulting from 48 hour exposure to butyrate or hydroxyurea is important for the study of the function of each cellular subset. Treatment of HeLa cells with lower concentrations of butyrate (1 mM) resulted in slowed yet exponential growth. Fraction labeled mitosis (FLM) analysis shows that this is a result of prolongation of the G1 phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-261
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of cellular physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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