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. 2017 Jun 6;(124):55745.
doi: 10.3791/55745.

Studying Cell Cycle-regulated Gene Expression by Two Complementary Cell Synchronization Protocols

Free PMC article

Studying Cell Cycle-regulated Gene Expression by Two Complementary Cell Synchronization Protocols

Aintzane Apraiz et al. J Vis Exp. .
Free PMC article


The gene expression program of the cell cycle represents a critical step for understanding cell cycle-dependent processes and their role in diseases such as cancer. Cell cycle-regulated gene expression analysis depends on cell synchronization into specific phases. Here we describe a method utilizing two complementary synchronization protocols that is commonly used for studying periodic variation of gene expression during the cell cycle. Both procedures are based on transiently blocking the cell cycle in one defined point. The synchronization protocol by hydroxyurea (HU) treatment leads to cellular arrest in late G1/early S phase, and release from HU-mediated arrest provides a cellular population uniformly progressing through S and G2/M. The synchronization protocol by thymidine and nocodazole (Thy-Noc) treatment blocks cells in early mitosis, and release from Thy-Noc mediated arrest provides a synchronized cellular population suitable for G1 phase and S phase-entry studies. Application of both procedures requires monitoring of the cell cycle distribution profiles, which is typically performed after propidium iodide (PI) staining of the cells and flow cytometry-mediated analysis of DNA content. We show that the combined use of two synchronization protocols is a robust approach to clearly determine the transcriptional profiles of genes that are differentially regulated in the cell cycle (i.e. E2F1 and E2F7), and consequently to have a better understanding of their role in cell cycle processes. Furthermore, we show that this approach is useful for the study of mechanisms underlying drug-based therapies (i.e. mitomycin C, an anticancer agent), because it allows to discriminate genes that are responsive to the genotoxic agent from those solely affected by cell cycle perturbations imposed by the agent.

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