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Cell Cycle. 2008 Jul 15;7(14):2146-56. Epub 2008 May 7.

Effects of anti-microtubule agents on microtubule organization in cells lacking the kinesin-13 MCAK.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Indiana University Medical Sciences, Bloomington, Indiana 47405, USA.


Dynamic microtubules are necessary for proper mitotic spindle assembly and chromosome segregation during mitosis. Members of the kinesin superfamily of molecular motor proteins are important to spindle function. Of particular interest is the Kinesin-13 family member MCAK, which acts to regulate microtubule dynamics during spindle assembly and to ensure proper attachments of chromosomes to spindle microtubules. The unique ability of MCAK to regulate microtubule dynamics makes it a potential target for development of new drugs that alter spindle function. Here, we knocked down MCAK via RNAi in normal and malignant cell lines and found that the two tested malignant cell lines were acutely sensitive to MCAK knockdown, while the tested normal cells were less sensitive. In addition, we looked at the effect of combining MCAK knockdown and drug treatment with paclitaxel or vinblastine to identify spindle assembly defects. We found that MCAK knockdown increased the morphological defects of the microtubule cytoskeleton in HeLa cells caused by anti-microtubule drugs. Our studies support the idea that MCAK would be a good target for new chemotherapeutic development and may be particularly useful in combination therapies with currently available anti-microtubule agents.

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