The Francis Crick Institute
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Identification of novel microtubule inhibitors effective in fission yeast and human cells and their effects on breast cancer cell lines.

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-09-10, 13:34 authored by Jun Morishita, Paul Nurse
Microtubules are critical for a variety of cellular processes such as chromosome segregation, intracellular transport and cell shape. Drugs against microtubules have been widely used in cancer chemotherapies, though the acquisition of drug resistance has been a significant issue for their use. To identify novel small molecules that inhibit microtubule organization, we conducted sequential phenotypic screening of fission yeast and human cells. From a library of diverse 10 371 chemicals, we identified 11 compounds that inhibit proper mitotic progression both in fission yeast and in HeLa cells. An in vitro assay revealed that five of these compounds are strong inhibitors of tubulin polymerization. These compounds directly bind tubulin and destabilize the structures of tubulin dimers. We showed that one of the compounds, L1, binds to the colchicine-binding site of microtubules and exhibits a preferential potency against a panel of human breast cancer cell lines compared with a control non-cancer cell line. In addition, L1 overcomes cellular drug resistance mediated by βIII tubulin overexpression and has a strong synergistic effect when combined with the Plk1 inhibitor BI2536. Thus, we have established an economically effective drug screening strategy to target mitosis and microtubules, and have identified a candidate compound for cancer chemotherapy.


Crick (Grant ID: 10121, Grant title: Nurse FC001121) Wellcome Trust (Grant ID: 214183/Z/18/Z, Grant title: WT 214183/Z/18/Z)