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Genetics/Signalling pathways/Tumor cell lines-induction


Why is serum starvation used for induction? I got an assignment to try to induce AP-1 (MAPK signalling pathway) in HEK293 (as reference) and SW480 cells, but I simply donít get why. Iím used to using serum starvation for different approaches.

Best Regards


hi Ivana,

Many reasons have been put forward to explain effects of serum starvation. Serum starvation effects are cell type dependent and time dependent. Thus a uniform protocol may not work for all cells; besides, too little time or too long a time again may not give the desired effect. Assuming that a specific time period has been worked out for a particular cell type, the effects seen are very complex and cannot be explained by a single hypothesis. Serum starvation is very commonly used to arrest cells in G0 phase.

One of the explanation is that,since serum contains many kinds of growth factors, cells when exposed these growth factors constantly could initiate a negative feedback and suppress certain signaling events. If this is the case, serum starvation can help to reset and establish robust signaling events. Another, explanation is that, serum starvation leads to ROS production which in turn can trigger several downstream signaling events that are usually pro-apoptotic in normal cells.

MAPK signaling is probably triggered in response to serum starvation in tumor cells, thereby preventing apoptosis, while in normal cells, MAPK may not be triggered and the cells might go towards apoptosis.



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Thanemozhi Natarajan


Answers in Genetics, genomics, cytogenetics of syndromes, congenital anomalies, cancer, clinical genomics and interpretation of omics data.


More than 10 years. Doctoral research thesis on Congenital anomalies and cytogenetics, Recurrent reproductive failure and chromosomal abnormalities. Postdoctoral experience in Breast cancer research. Current: Clinical Genomics and Pharmacogenomics.


Cancer Cell International, Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, Breast cancer research and treatment, Indian Journal of Pediatrics, BMC Proceedings, Pharmacogenetics and Genomics, Human Molecular Genetics, Frontiers in Genetics, Cancer Biomarkers.

PhD Biomedical Genetics

Awards and Honors
University Grants Commission Award for pursuing PhD level research (India); Travel awards to attend conferences.

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Post doctoral experience Cancer research, molecular epidemiology Current: Clininical Genomics and Pharmacogenomics

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