Induction of human choriogonadotropin in HeLa-cell cultures by aliphatic monocarboxylates and inhibitors of deoxyribonucleic acid synthesis

N. K. Ghosh, A. Rukenstein, R. P. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The ectopic production of the glycopeptide hormone human placental choriogonadotropin by HeLa65 cells was measured by radioimmunoassay with antiserum against the β-subunit of choriogonadotropin and with the 125I-labelled β-subunit as a tracer antigen. Choriogonadotropin synthesis was markedly (500-fold) stimulated by sodium butyrate. Kinetic studies and the use of an inhibitor of protein synthesis, cycloheximide, indicated that protein synthesis was required for this induction. Investigation of the efficiency of 22 alphatic short-chain fatty acids and derivatives in causing increased choriogonadotropin synthesis by HeLa cells showed stringent structural requirements. Induction of choriogonadotropin synthesis in HeLa cells was not restricted to butyrate. Other aliphatic acids (propionate, isobutyrate, valerate and hexanoate) were also capable of inducing choriogonadotropin synthesis at 10-50% of the efficiency of butyrate. Hydroxy derivatives of monocarboxylate inducers, related mono- and di-carboxylic acids, alcohols, amines, ketones, esters and sulfoxide were ineffective in increasing choriogonadotropin production by HeLa cells. A saturated C4 straight-chain acid without substituent hydroxyl groups but with a methyl group at one end and a carboxyl moiety at the other appeared to be most efficient in activating choriogonadotropin production. A second clonal line of HeLa cells, HeLa71, showed a higher constitutive synthesis of choriogonadotropin than HeLa65 cells, which was also markedly increased by butyrate. Butyrate and other aliphatic monocarboxylate inducers of choriogonadotropin synthesis inhibited HeLa-cell growth and DNA synthesis. This inhibition of DNA replication may be related to the mechanism of choriogonadotropin synthesis, since 2 well-characterized anti-neoplastic inhibitors of DNA synthesis, hydroxyurea and 1-β-D-arabinofuranosylcytosine, also stimulated a 300-fold increase in choriogonadotropin synthesis in HeLa cells and were synergistic with butyrate in promoting choriogonadotropin synthesis. Thus activation in tumor cells of genes normally expressed by fetal tissue and the consequent ectopic synthesis of polypeptide hormones may require neither cell division nor DNA synthesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-274
Number of pages10
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1977

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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