Human leukemia K-562 cells: induction of erythroid differentiation by 5-azacytidine

Roberto Gambari, Laura del Senno, Raffaella Barbieri, Lorenza Viola, Marco Tripodi, Giuseppe Raschellà, Antonio Fantoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article we show that the cytidine analog 5-azacytidine is able to induce differentiation of the human leukemia K-562 cell line. Erythroid induction is associated with (a) an increase of the overall globin synthesis and globin mRNA accumulation, (b) a relative increase of fetal with respect to embryonic globins, and (c) a decrease of the proliferative capacity of hemoglobin-containing cells. In addition, we have analysed the DNA methylation pattern at the cleavage sites of MspI and HpaII restriction enzymes, which are known to cleave differently CCGG DNA sequences when 5-methylcytosine is present. These experiments indicate that in K-562 cells treated with 5-azacytidine, DNA becomes hypomethylated, suggesting that genetic programmes leading to an erythroid phenotype may be activated by a reduction of DNA methylation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-97
Number of pages11
JournalCell Differentiation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1984


  • 5-azacytidine
  • DNA methylation
  • erythroid differentiation
  • globin mRNA
  • K-562 cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology


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