Letter | Published:

Terminal differentiation in human promyelocytic leukaemic cells in the absence of DNA synthesis


Some phorbol diesters, the most potent of which is 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA), exert two different effects on the differentiation of leukaemic cells in vitro: they reversibly inhibit the differentiation in Friend mouse erythroleukaemia cells1,2 and mouse myeloid leukaemia M1 cells3, and they induce differentiation in other mouse erythroleukaemia cells4, mouse myeloid leukaemia cells5, human promyelocytic leukaemia cells5–9 and cells of patients with myeloid and myelomonocytic leukaemia10. The effect on human leukaemic cells is both irreversible and independent of the continuous presence of the drug7. We report here that TPA-induced differentiation of human promyelocytic leukaemia cells (HL60) need not be preceded by a round of DNA synthesis, and that the majority of TPA-treated cells accumulate in the G1 phase of the cell cycle.

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