Cytofluorometric assessment of cell cycle progression.
One of the most prominent features of cellular senescence, a stress response that prevents the propagation of cells that have accumulated potentially oncogenic alterations, is a permanent loss of proliferative potential. Thus, at odds with quiescent cells, which resume proliferation when stimulated to do so, senescent cells cannot proceed through the cell cycle even in the presence of mitogenic factors. Here, we describe a set of cytofluorometric techniques for studying how chemical and/or physical stimuli alter the cell cycle in vitro, in both qualitative and quantitative terms. Taken together, these methods allow for the identification of bona fide cytostatic effects as well as for a refined characterization of cell cycle distributions, providing information on proliferation, DNA content as well as on the presence of cell cycle phase-specific markers. At the end of the chapter, a set of guidelines is offered to assist researchers that approach the study of the cell cycle with the interpretation of results.