drp, A novel cell density regulated protein

Jeffrey E Deyo, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Growing cells are continuously processing signals of all varieties and responding to these signals by changes in cellular gene expression. One signal that cells in close proximity relay to each other is cell-cell contact. Non-transformed cells respond to cell-cell contact by arrest of growth and entry into G$\sb0,$ a process known as contact inhibition. Transformed cells do not respond to contact inhibition and continue to grow to high cell density, forming foci when in cell culture and tumors in the living organism. The events surrounding the generation, transduction, and response to cellular contact are poorly understood. In the present study, a novel gene product, drp, is shown to be expressed at high levels in cultured cells at high cell density. This density regulated protein, drp, has an apparent molecular weight of 70 kDa. Northern analysis shows drp to be highly expressed in cardiac and skeletal muscle and least abundant in lung and kidney tissues. By homology to two independently derived sequence tagged sites (STSs) used in the human genome project, drp or a closely related sequence maps to human chromosome 12. Density-dependent increases in drp expression have been demonstrated in six different cell lines including NIH 3T3, Hela and a human teratocarcinoma cell line, PA-1. Cells exhibit increased drp expression both when they are plated at increasing concentrations per unit area, or plated at low density and allowed to grow naturally to higher cell density. Cells at high density can exhibit several phenotypes including growth arrest, accumulation of soluble factors in the media, and increased numbers of cell contacts. Growth arrest by serum starvation or TGF-$\beta$ treatment fails to produce an increase in drp expression. Similarly, treatment of low density cells with conditioned media from high density cells fails to elicit drp expression. These results argue that neither soluble factors accumulated or expressed at high density nor simple exit from the cell cycle is sufficient to produce an increase in drp expression. The expression of drp appears to be uniquely regulated by cell density alone.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Deyo, Jeffrey E, "drp, A novel cell density regulated protein" (1997). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9732765.