Genistein, an in vitro inhibitor of topoisomerase II and tyrosine kinases, suppressed growth and induced differentiation in HL-205 cells, a clonal population of the human promyelocytic HL-60 leukemia cells, and in K-562-J cells, a clonal population of the human erythroid K-562 leukemia cells. Maturing HL-205 cells acquired either granulocytic or monocytic markers, namely, reactivity with the murine OKM1 monoclonal antibody, expression of nitroblue tetrazolium dye reduction, and staining for nonspecific esterase. The maturing K-562-J cells stained with benzidine, which indicates the presence of hemoglobin, an erythroid maturation marker. Although the acquisition of the maturation markers in both HL-205 and K-562-J cells was time dependent up to 6 days, the kinetics of this induction differed between the two cell types. Despite the in vitro inhibitory effect of genistein, treatment of either HL-205 or K-562-J cells with 150 µg/ml genistein for up to 16 h did not alter topoisomerase II activity (as determined by the unknotting assay) in their nuclear extracts. Analysis with the anti-phosphotyrosine PY-20 murine monoclonal antibody indicated that treatment of K-562-J cells with genistein decreased the reactivity of the antibody with two of the cellular proteins. However, no reactivity with the PY-20 antibody was detected in untreated or genistein-treated HL-205 cells. An early event in the HL-205 and K-562-J cells, occurring after only 1 h of treatment with 30–200 µg/ml genistein, was the induction of DNA damage as measured by an alkaline elution assay. This damage may be a contributing factor in the genistein-induced cell differentiation in the HL-205 and K-562-J cells.


This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Health and Environmental Research, under contract W-31-109-ENG-38.

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