Changes in the stability of a human H3 histone mRNA during the HeLa cell cycle

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Cell Biology

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Document Type



*Cell Cycle; Cloning, Molecular; DNA Replication; *Gene Expression Regulation; Hela Cells; Histones; Hot Temperature; Humans; Hydroxyurea; Promoter Regions, Genetic; RNA, Messenger; Transcription, Genetic


Cell Biology


A major component of the regulation of histone protein synthesis during the cell cycle is the modulation of the half-life of histone mRNA. We have uncoupled transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulation by using a Drosophila hsp70-human H3 histone fusion gene that produces a marked human H3 histone mRNA upon heat induction. Transcription of this gene can be switched on and off by raising and lowering cell culture temperatures, respectively. HeLa cell lines containing stably integrated copies of the fusion gene were synchronized by double thymidine block. Distinct populations of H3 histone mRNA were produced by heat induction in early S-phase, late S-phase, or G2-phase cells, and the stability of the induced H3 histone mRNA was measured. The H3 histone mRNA induced during early S phase decayed with a half-life of 110 min, whereas the same transcript induced during late S phase had a half-life of 10 to 15 min. The H3 histone mRNA induced in non-S-phase cells is more stable than that induced in late S phase, with a half-life of 40 min. Thus, the stability of histone mRNA is actively regulated throughout the cell cycle. Our results are consistent with an autoregulatory model in which the stability of histone mRNA is determined by the level of free histone protein in the cytoplasm.


Mol Cell Biol. 1991 Jan;11(1):544-53.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Molecular and cellular biology

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Link to Article in PubMed

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