Abstract\ud Time-lapse films were made of PC13 embryonal carcinoma cells, synchronized by mitotic shake off, in the absence and presence of retinoic acid. Using a method based on the transition probability model, cell cycle parameters were determined during the first five generations following synchronization. In undifferentiated cells, cell cycle parameters remained identical for the first four generations, the generation time being 11–12 hr. In differentiating cells, with retinoic acid added at the beginning of the first cycle, the first two generations were the same as controls. The duration of the third generation, however, was increased to 15.7 hr while the fourth and fifth generation were approximately 20 hr, the same as in exponentially growing, fully differentiated cells. The increase in generation time of dividing cells was principally due to an increase in the length of S phase. Cell death induced by retinoic acid also occurred principally in the third and subsequent generations. Cell population growth was then significantly less than that expected from the generation time derived from cycle analysis of dividing cells. Cells lysed frequently as sister pairs suggesting susceptibility to retinoic acid toxicity determined in a generation prior to death. Morphological differentiation, as estimated by the area of substrate occupied by cells, was shown to begin in the second cell cycle after retinoic acid addition. These results demonstrate that as in the early mammalian embryo, differentiation of embryonal carcinoma cells to an endoderm-like cell is also accompanied by a decrease in growth rate but that this is preceded by acquisition of the morphology characteristic of the differentiated progeny
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