Signal transduction of phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA)-induced growth inhibition of human monocytic leukemia THP-1 cells is reactive oxygen dependent

Kassim Traore, Michael A. Trush, Matthew George, Ernst W Spannhake, Winston Anderson, Amha Asseffa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Human monocytic THP-1 cells can be induced to differentiate to macrophages when treated with phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA). It is understood that before initiating cell differentiation, PMA treatment must first induce an inhibition of cell growth. Since the initial biochemical and molecular events that are associated with this growth inhibition have not been characterized, the present study was carried out to elucidate the molecular mechanisms associated with the PMA-induced growth arrest of THP-1 cells. Our results indicate that PMA inhibits THP-1 cells at G1-phase of the cell cycle, via a complex mechanism associated with the modulation of the expression of several cell cycle regulators, initiated by the cellular generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Both p21WAF1/CIP1 mRNA and protein were upregulated 24 h post PMA treatment as demonstrated by ribonuclease protection assay and Western blotting, respectively. Because these cells lack functional p53, this effect was independent of p53 activity. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay showed that the PMA-induced activation of the p21WAF1/CIP1 promoter was driven by the specific protein 1 (Sp1) transcription factor through Sp1-binding sites. Additionally, our study demonstrates that PMA-induces the upregulation of p21 through a protein kinase C (PKC)-mediated ROS-dependent signaling mechanism involving MAP kinase activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)863-879
Number of pages17
JournalLeukemia Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005



  • Cell cycle
  • Extracellular signal-regulated kinase
  • p21
  • Phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • THP-1 cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Hematology
  • Oncology

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