The transcriptome of acute dehydration in myeloid leukemic cells


  • David B. Mark Welch Josephine Bay Paul Center for Comparative Molecular Biology and Evolution, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole MA, USA
  • Travis J. Gould Department of Physics & Astronomy, Bates College, Lewiston, ME, USA
  • Ada L. Olins MaineHealth Institute for Research, Scarborough, ME, USA
  • Donald E. Olins MaineHealth Institute for Research (MHIR), Scarborough, ME, USA



Human myeloid leukemia cells (HL-60/S4) exposed to hyperosmotic stress with sucrose undergo dehydration and cell shrinkage. Interphase chromatin and mitotic chromosomes congeal, exhibiting altered phase separation (demixing) of chromatin proteins. To investigate changes in the transcriptome, we exposed HL-60/S4 cells to hyperosmotic sucrose stress (~600 milliOsmolar) for 30 and 60 minutes. We employed RNA-Seq of polyA mRNA to identify genes with increased or decreased transcript levels relative to untreated control cells (i.e., differential gene expression). These genes were examined for over-representation of Gene Ontology (GO) terms.  In stressed cells, multiple GO terms associated with transcription, translation, mitochondrial function and proteosome activity, as well as “replication-dependent histones”, were over-represented among genes with increased transcript levels; whereas, genes with decreased transcript levels were over-represented with transcription repressors. The transcriptome profiles of hyperosmotically-stressed cells suggest acquisition of cellular rebuilding, a futile homeostatic response, as these cells are ultimately doomed to a dehydrated death.


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