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3 April 2018 Analysis of Gene Expression Changes in PHA-M Stimulated Lymphocytes – Unraveling PHA Activity as Prerequisite for Dicentric Chromosome Analysis
C. Beinke, M. Port, R. Ullmann, K. Gilbertz, M. Majewski, M. Abend
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Dicentric chromosome analysis (DCA) is the gold standard for individual radiation dose assessment. However, DCA is limited by the time-consuming phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-mediated lymphocyte activation. In this study using human peripheral blood lymphocytes, we investigated PHA-associated whole genome gene expression changes to elucidate this process and sought to identify suitable gene targets as a means of meeting our long-term objective of accelerating cell cycle kinetics to reduce DCA culture time. Human peripheral whole blood from three healthy donors was separately cultured in RPMI/FCS/antibiotics with BrdU and PHA-M. Diluted whole blood samples were transferred into PAXgene tubes at 0, 12, 24 and 36 h culture time. RNA was isolated and aliquots were used for whole genome gene expression screening. Microarray results were validated using qRT-PCR and differentially expressed genes [significantly (FDR corrected) twofold different from the 0 h value reference] were analyzed using several bioinformatic tools. The cell cycle positions and DNA-synthetic activities of lymphocytes were determined by analyzing the correlated total DNA content and incorporated BrdU level with flow cytometry after continued BrdU incubation. From 42,545 transcripts of the whole genome microarray 47.6%, on average, appeared expressed. The number of differentially expressed genes increased linearly from 855 to 2,858 and 4,607 at 12, 24 and 36 h after PHA addition, respectively. Approximately 2–3 times more up- than downregulated genes were observed with several hundred genes differentially expressed at each time point. Earliest enrichment was observed for gene sets related to the nucleus (12 h) followed by genes assigned to intracellular structures such as organelles (24 h) and finally genes related to the membrane and the extracellular matrix were enriched (36 h). Early gene expression changes at 12 h, in particular, were associated with protein classes such as chemokines/cytokines (e.g., CXCL1, CXCL2) and chaperones. Genes coding for biological processes involved in cell cycle control (e.g., MYBL2, RBL1, CCNA, CCNE) and DNA replication (e.g., POLA, POLE, MCM) appeared enriched at 24 h and later, but many more biological processes (42 altogether) showed enrichment as well. Flow cytometry data fit together with gene expression and bioinformatic analyses as cell cycle transition into S phase was observed with interindividual differences from 12 h onward, whereas progression into G2 as well as into the second G1 occurred from 36 h onward after activation. Gene set enrichment analysis over time identifies, in particular, two molecular categories of PHA-responsive gene targets (cytokine and cell cycle control genes). Based on that analysis target genes for cell cycle acceleration in lymphocytes have been identified (CDKN1A/B/C, RBL-1/RBL-2, E2F2, Deaf-1), and it remains undetermined whether the time expenditure for DCA can be reduced by influencing gene expression involved in the regulatory circuits controlling PHA-associated cell cycle entry and/or progression at a specific early cell cycle phase.

©2018 by Radiation Research Society.
C. Beinke, M. Port, R. Ullmann, K. Gilbertz, M. Majewski, and M. Abend "Analysis of Gene Expression Changes in PHA-M Stimulated Lymphocytes – Unraveling PHA Activity as Prerequisite for Dicentric Chromosome Analysis," Radiation Research 189(6), 579-596, (3 April 2018).
Received: 30 October 2017; Accepted: 1 February 2018; Published: 3 April 2018

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