The coordination of the syntheses of the several cellular lipid classes with one another and with cell cycle control were investigated in proliferating L6 myoblasts and fibroblasts (WI-38 and CEF). Cells cultured in lipid-depleted medium containing one of two inhibitors of hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase, 25-hydroxycholesterol or compactin, display a rapid, dose-dependent inhibition of cholesterol synthesis. Inhibition of the syntheses of each of the other lipid classes is first apparent after the rate of sterol synthesis is depressed severalfold. 24 h after the addition of the inhibitor, the syntheses of DNA, RNA, and protein also decline. The inhibition of sterol synthesis leads to a threefold reduction in the sterol:phospholipid ratio that parallels the development of proliferative and G1 cell cycle arrests and alterations in cellular morphology. All of these responses are reversed upon reinitiation of cholesterol synthesis or addition of exogenous cholesterol. A comparison of the timing of these responses with respect to the development of the G1 arrest indicates that the primary factor limiting cell cycling is the availability of cholesterol provided either from an exogenous source or by de novo synthesis. The G1 arrest appears to be responsible for the general inhibition of macromolecular synthesis in proliferating cells treated with 25-hydroxycholesterol. In contrast, the apparent coordinated inhibition of lipid synthesis is not a consequence of the G1 arrest but may in fact give rise to it. Sequential inhibition of lipid syntheses is also observed in cycling cells when the synthesis of choline-containing lipids is blocked by choline deprivation and is observed in association with G1 arrests caused by confluence or differentiation. In the nonproliferating cells, the syntheses of lipid and protein do not appear coupled.

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