Cells in culture become competent to replicate in the absence of growth factor after progressing beyond the late G1 restriction point, suggesting that a set of genes expressed during G1 phase is sufficient to trigger completion of the cell cycle. However, this has not been demonstrated in an in vivo system. In this study, we examined whether transfection of genes associated with the G1/S transition could trigger hepatocyte replication. Co-transfection of cyclin E and skp2 synergistically promoted cell cycle progression in cultured primary hepatocytes in the absence of mitogen or in the presence of growth inhibitors. Furthermore, transfection of hepatocytes in vivo with cyclin E and skp2 promoted abundant hepatocyte replication and hyperplasia of the liver. These studies confirm that transfection with a small number of genes can trigger proliferation of quiescent hepatocytes in vivo, and suggest that therapies to enhance liver regeneration by targeting cell cycle control genes may be feasible.
- Gene therapy
- Liver regeneration