A number of chemical agents known to influence the key cell cycle regulatory factors were used to assess the requirements of hydroxyurea-treated root meristem cells of Vicia faba for premature condensation of chromosomes (PCC). These included caffeine and 2-aminopurine (inhibitors of ATM/ATR sensor kinases activated by DNA damage or stalled replication forks), inhibitors of protein kinases (staurosporine and wortmannin), inhibitors of protein phosphatases (sodium vanadate and calyculin A), and other compounds like 1,2-dioctyl-sn-glycerol, an activator of protein kinase C, 5-azacytidine, an inhibitor of DNA methyltransferase, dithiothreitol and N-etylmaleimide, capable to up- and down-regulate the activity of Cdc25 phosphatase. Cytological parameters used to evaluate quantitative aspects of PCC allowed us to discriminate various phenotypes of cells and, consistent with the extent of chromosomal fragmentation, to classify them as S- or G2-PCC. Two significant aspects relevant to the induction of premature mitosis in plants seem to emerge: one concerns the inverse relationship between the incidence of mitotic and PCC events, the other refers to the extent with which a variety of chemical agents may activate mechanisms that override the S-M replication checkpoint. 1,2- dioctyl-sn-glycerol, an activator of protein kinase C in animal cells proved extremely effective in stimulation of PCC, in spite of evident lack of molecular targets in plants.
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