Heat shock proteins in leukaemia cell differentiation and cell death

  • Andrea Watson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


When HL60 cells were induced to differentiate to granulocyte-like cells with the agents N-methylformamide and tunicamycin an concentrations marginally below those which were cytotoxic, there was a decrease in the synthesis of the glucose- regulated proteins which preceded the expression of markers of a differentiated phenotype. There was a transient increase in the amount of hsp70 after 36 hours in NMF treated cells but in differentiated cells negligible amounts were detected. Inducers which were known to modulate hsp70 such as azetadine carboxylic acid did not induce differentiation suggesting early changes in the endoplasmic reticulum may be involved in the commitment to terminal differentiation of HL60 cells. These changes in group synthesis were not observed when K562 human chronic myelogenous leukemia cells were induced to differentiate to erythroid-like cells but there was a comparable increase in amounts of hsp70.
When cells were treated with concentrations of drugs which brought about a loss in cell viability there was an early increase in the amount of hsp70 protein in the absence of any increase in synthesis. HL60 cells were treated with NMF (225mM), Adriamycin (1μM), or CB3717 (5μM) and there was an increase in the amounts of hsp70, in the absence of any new synthesis, which preceded any loss of membrane integrity and any significant changes in cell cycle but was concomitant with a later loss in viability of > 50% and a loss in proliferative potential. The amounts of hsp70 in the cell after treatment with any of the drugs was comparable to that obtained after a heat shock.
Following a heat shock hsp70 was translocated from the cytoplasm to the nucleus, but treatment with toxic concentrations of drug caused hsp70 to remain localised in the cytoplasm. Changes in hsp70 turn-over was observed after a heat shock compared to NMF-treated cells. Morphological studies suggested that cells that had been treated with NMF and CB3717 were undergoing necrosis whereas the Adriamycin cells showed characteristics that were indicative of apoptosis. The data supports the hypothesis that an increase in amounts of hsp70 is an early marker of cell death.
Date of AwardOct 1990
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJohn A. Hickman (Supervisor)


  • cell death
  • differentiation
  • HL60
  • K562
  • stree proteins

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