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Apoptosis. 2008 May;13(5):659-69. doi: 10.1007/s10495-008-0200-2.

The tubulin-depolymerising agent combretastatin-4 induces ectopic aster assembly and mitotic catastrophe in lung cancer cells H460.

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Department of Biology, University Roma Tre, V.le Marconi 446, 00146, Rome, Italy.


The relationship between microtubular dynamics, dismantling of pericentriolar components and induction of apoptosis was analysed after exposure of H460 non-small lung cancer cells to anti-mitotic drugs. The microtubule destabilising agent, combretastatin-A4 (CA-4) led to microtubular array disorganization, arrest in mitosis and abnormal metaphases, accompanied by the presence of numerous centrosome-independent "star-like" structures containing tubulin and aggregates of pericentrosomal matrix components like gamma-tubulin, pericentrin and ninein, whereas the structural integrity of centrioles was not affected by treatment. On the contrary, in condition of prolonged exposure or high concentrations of CA-4 such aggregates never formed. Treatment with 7.5 nM CA-4, which produced a high frequency "star-like" aggregates, was accompanied by mitotic catastrophe commitment characterized by translocation of the proapoptotic Bim protein to mitochondria activation of caspases-3/9 and DNA fragmentation as a result of either prolonged metaphase arrest or attempt of cells to divide. Drug concentrations which fail to block cells at mitosis were also unable to activate apotosis. A detailed time-course analysis of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis indicated that after CA-4 washout the number of metaphases with "star-like" structures decreased as a function of time and arrested cells proceeded in anaphase. After 4 h, the multiple alpha- and gamma-tubulin aggregates coalesced into two well-defined spindles in a bipolar mitotic spindle organization. Overall, our findings suggest that the maintenance of microtubular integrity plays a relevant role in stabilising the pericentriolar matrix, whose dismantling can be associated with apoptosis after exposure to microtubule depolymerising agents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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