Increased alkaline phophatase activity in HeLa cells mediated by aliphatic monocarboxylates and inhibitors of DNA synthesis

Stephen I. Deutsch, Nimai K. Ghosh, Rody P. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alkaline phosphatese activity of HeLa cells is increased from 3- to 8-fold during growth in medium with certain aliphatic monocarboxylates. The four-carbon fatty acid salt, sodium butyrate, is the most effective "inducer" with propionate (C3), pentanoate (C5) and hexanoate (C6) having lesser effects. Other straight-chain aliphatic monocarboxylates, branched-chain analogues of inducers, hydroxylated derivatives, and metabolytes structurally related to butyrate are ineffective in mediating an increase in enzyme activity, indicating stringent structural requirements for inducers. The kinetics of increase in alkaline phosphatase activity in HeLa cells shows a 20-30 h lag period after adding the aliphatic acid followed by a rapid linear increase of enzyme activity. Protein synthesis is required for "induction". The isozyme of HeLa alkaline phosphatase induced by monocarboxylates is the carcinoplacental form of the enzyme as determined by stereospecific inhibition by the l-enantiomorphs of phenylalanine and tryptophan, heat stability, and immunoreactivity with antibody against the human placental enzyme. Monocarboxylates that mediate increased alkaline phosphatase activity inhibit HeLa cell multiplication. Inhibition of HeLa cell growth may be necessary for induction and this hypothesis is supported by the findings that three different inhibitors of DNA synthesis, i.e. hydroxyurea, 1-β-d-arabinfuranosyl cytosine and methotrexate, also increase alkaline phosphatase activity. These inhibitors are synergistic with butyrate in causing HeLa cells to assume a more spindle-like shape and in producing an up-to 25-fold increase of enzyme activity. Studies on the modulation of carcinoplacental alkaline phosphatase by monocarboxylates commonly used as antimicrobial food additives and by anti-neoplastic agents may provide methods to evoke "tumor markers" of human occult malignancies. These drug-induced elevations of fetal isozyme activity may further our understanding of gene expression in human cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-391
Number of pages10
JournalBBA - General Subjects
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 25 1977

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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