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Cancer Cell death Cell cycle Cytoskeleton Exo/endocytosis Differentiation Division Organelles Signalling Stem cells Trafficking
Cell Biology International (2001) 25, 777–784 (Printed in Great Britain)
M.C. Phoona, Charles Desbordesb, J. Howea and Vincent T.K. Chowaf1
aDepartment of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Kent Ridge, Singapore, 117597, Republic of Singapore
bDepartment of Biology, Medgar Evers College, City University of New York, New York, NY, 11225, U.S.A.


The effects of varying concentrations of linoleic acid and its transisomer linolelaidic acid on the proliferation the ultrastructural morphology of MOLT-4 T-lymphoblastic leukaemia cells were investigated. At 2 and 4 days after exposure to the fatty acids, the cells were counted by flow cytometry and observed by electron microscopy. After 4 days of treatment, linoleic acid was growth stimulatory at concentrations of 200μm or less, but was markedly inhibitory at 400μm. In contrast, linolelaidic acid stimulated proliferation at concentrations of 100 and 200μm, but inhibited cell growth at 400μm. Cells treated with 400μm linoleic acid displayed dense accumulations of characteristic lipid globules and glycogen granules, and exhibited ultrastructural evidence of apoptosis including vacuolization, membrane blebbing and chromatin margination at the nuclear periphery. These results support the notion that geometrical isomerism and concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids influence the proliferative destiny of cancer cells. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis revealed a previously documented larger alternatively spliced p53 gene transcript in MOLT-4 cells cultured under reduced serum conditions. However, only wild-type p53 transcripts were amplified by RT-PCR of MOLT-4 cells exposed to phytohaemagglutinin, linoleic acid or linolelaidic acid.

Key words: linoleic acid, linolelaidic acid, MOLT-4, cell proliferation, apoptosis, p53 alternative splicing.

f1To whom correspondence should be addressed. Fax: 65 776 6872.

Received 19 October 2000; accepted 31 January 2001


ISSN Print: 1065-6995
ISSN Electronic: 1095-8355
Published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the International Federation for Cell Biology (IFCB)