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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Cholesterol-induced growth stimulation, cell aggregation, and membrane properties of ascites tumor cells in culture.

Ascites tumor cells can be cultivated at a reduced serum concentration if cholesterol (2.50 mg per 100 ml of medium) is added to the culture medium. At serum concentrations of 3%, optimal growth properties are obtained; below 3%, cell cultures usually perish after a few days. Cells grown in the presence of added cholesterol have an elevated content of this molecule per cell as well as in the plasma membrane, and they also show a cholesterol concentration-dependent rate of proliferation. Precursors of the cholesterol-biosynthetic pathway like mevalonic acid, added in mM amounts, or squalene and lanosterol cannot be substituted for cholesterol itself. This is due to the observation that the biosynthetic pathway is blocked at the stage of lanosterol conversion to cholesterol. Cholesterol de novo synthesis from acetate is regulated by the cholesterol content of the cells, which also affects the production of ubiquinone and dolichol. Growth factors such as insulin, prostaglandin F2 alpha, and transferrin added to the medium do not mimic the cholesterol-induced effect. Distribution of DNA during cell cycle and the cell density-dependent reduction in macromolecule synthesis is very similar to the control cells. In contrast, cells without added cholesterol show reduced growth properties accompanied by the accumulation of cells in the mitotic and G2 phase. The cholesterol/phospholipid ratio of the plasma membranes of cholesterol-rich cells is about 15% lower than of the control cells and 40% higher compared to the cholesterol-poor cells, which, however, does not significantly alter the membrane fluidity between the cholesterol-rich and -poor cells as revealed by fluorescence polarization measurements. The most dramatic behavior of the cholesterol-rich cells is their tendency to form aggregates, which is demonstrated either by concanavalin A-induced agglutination or by cell density-dependent aggregation shown by interference microscopy in vivo.[1]


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