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Biol Proced Online. 2010 Apr 8;12(1):113-7. doi: 10.1007/s12575-010-9029-5.

Quick and simple detection technique to assess the binding of antimicrotubule agents to the colchicine-binding site.

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Unité des Biotechnologies et de Bioingénierie, Centre de recherche, C,H,U,Q,, Hôpital Saint-François d'Assise, Québec, QC, G1L 3L5, Canada.


Development of antimitotic binding to the colchicine-binding site for the treatment of cancer is rapidly expanding. Numerous antimicrotubule agents are prepared every year, and the determination of their binding affinity to tubulin requires the use of purified tubulins and radiolabeled ligands. Such a procedure is costly and time-consuming and therefore is limited to the most promising candidates. Here, we report a quick and inexpensive method that requires only usual laboratory resources to assess the binding of antimicrotubules to colchicine-binding site. The method is based on the ability of N,N'-ethylene-bis(iodoacetamide) (EBI) to crosslink in living cells the cysteine residues at position 239 and 354 of β-tubulin, residues which are involved in the colchicine-binding site. The β-tubulin adduct formed by EBI is easily detectable by Western blot as a second immunoreacting band of β-tubulin that migrates faster than β-tubulin. The occupancy of colchicine-binding site by pertinent antimitotics inhibits the formation of the EBI: β-tubulin adduct, resulting in an assay that allows the screening of new molecules targeting this binding site.

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