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Mitotic cell death induction by targeting the mitotic spindle with tubulin-inhibitory indole derivative molecules.

By Di Cesare Erica; Verrico Annalisa; Miele Andrea; Giubettini Maria; Rovella Paola; Cundari Enrico; Lavia Patrizia; Miele Andrea; Giubettini Maria; Coluccia Antonio; et al
From Oncotarget (2017), 8(12), 19738-19759, Language: English, Database: MEDLINE

Tubulin-targeting molecules are widely used cancer therapeutic agents. They inhibit microtubule-based structures, including the mitotic spindle, ultimately preventing cell division. The final fates of microtubule-inhibited cells are however often heterogeneous and difficult to predict. While recent work has provided insight into the cell response to inhibitors of microtubule dynamics (taxanes), the cell response to tubulin polymerization inhibitors remains less well characterized. Arylthioindoles (ATIs) are recently developed tubulin inhibitors. We previously identified ATI members that effectively inhibit tubulin polymerization in vitro and cancer cell growth in bulk cell viability assays. Here we characterise in depth the response of cancer cell lines to five selected ATIs. We find that all ATIs arrest mitotic progression, yet subsequently yield distinct cell fate profiles in time-lapse recording assays, indicating that molecules endowed with similar tubulin polymerization inhibitory activity in vitro can in fact display differential efficacy in living cells. Individual ATIs induce cytological phenotypes of increasing severity in terms of damage to the mitotic apparatus. That differentially triggers MCL-1 down-regulation and caspase-3 activation, and underlies the terminal fate of treated cells. Collectively, these results contribute to define the cell response to tubulin inhibitors and pinpoint potentially valuable molecules that can increase the molecular diversity of tubulin-targeting agents.

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