The temporal relationship between cyclin A accumulation and the onset of DNA replication was analyzed in detail. Five untransformed and nine transformed asynchronously growing cell cultures were investigated using a triple immunofluorescence staining protocol combined with computerized evaluation of staining intensities in individual cells. The simultaneous staining of BrdU, cyclin A, and cyclin E made it possible to determine the cell cycle position of each cell investigated. Cells at the G(1)/S border were identified on the basis of cyclin E content and were further analyzed with respect to cyclin A and BrdU content. A method was developed to calculate objective thresholds defining the highest staining intensity found in the negative cells in the population. Using the thresholds we could distinguish cells with minute amounts of cyclin A and BrdU from truly negative cells. We show that the onset of cyclin A accumulation and the start of DNA replication occurs at the same time, or deviating by a few minutes at the most. We also show that cyclin A accumulates continuously during S. This study clearly demonstrates that nuclear cyclin A can be used as a reliable marker for the S and G(2) phases in both normal and transformed interphase cells.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.