Gene expression profile in early stage of retinoic acid-induced differentiation of human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells

Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2001;18(2-3):67-80.


Purpose: The human SH-SY5Y cell line is an established model for retinoic acid (RA)-induced neural differentiation. We employed a broad human 15K microarray (15,000 genes) and focused Neuroarray (1152 genes) to examine changes in gene expression early in the process of differentiation (6 hr), before morphology or growth changes are observed.

Methods: 33 P-labeled CDNA probes prepared from RNA extracts of RA-treated and control cultures were hybridized to array membranes, and levels of expression were quantified and compared.

Results: In the 15K array, 19 % of the genes were decreased (0.4 % were named genes and the remainder were expressed sequence tags (ESTs) or unknowns), and 9 % were increased (4.2 % named genes). In the Neuroarray, 3 % were decreased and 8 % were increased.

Conclusions: Summary gene profiles are presented, which include transcription factors, genes associated with cell cycle, cell shape, neurotransmission, intermediary filaments, and others. The prevalence of down-regulated genes in the broad 15K array and up-regulated genes in the neuro-focused array suggests a pattern shift in gene expression associated with differentiation. The predominance of ESTs among the down-regulated genes indicates a great number of as-yet-unidentified genes are repressed in early stage neural differentiation.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Contractile Proteins*
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Humans
  • Microfilament Proteins / analysis
  • Microfilament Proteins / genetics
  • Neuroblastoma*
  • Neurofilament Proteins / analysis
  • Neurofilament Proteins / genetics
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Profilins
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Contractile Proteins
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Neurofilament Proteins
  • PFN1 protein, human
  • Profilins
  • Tretinoin