We studied the cell cycle of lectin-stimulated human lymphocytes, making use of a flow cytometer. The RNA and DNA content of large numbers of individual cells was determined by supravital staining with acridine orange. The present study confirmed previous observations by others of a progression from G0 through G1 and S phase to G2/mitosis during the first 3 d in culture. It was also found that on subsequent days stimulated cells, before their return to G0, remained stationary in a state in which they contained the G0 complement of DNA and approximately twice the G0 complement of RNA. Cell-cycle manipulation with vinblastine and 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BUdR) revealed that previous passage through both S phase and mitosis was required for entry into this newly observed late phase. In addition, there was high correlation (r = 0.973, P less than 0.001) between the number of cells in the late phase and measured [3H]thymidine uptake. It therefore appears that, in this system, stimulated cells remain in a distinct cell-cycle phase for a number of hours before their return to the resting state.

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