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Mol Cancer Ther. 2005 Jun;4(6):987-95.

A highly epothilone B-resistant A549 cell line with mutations in tubulin that confer drug dependence.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


A 95-fold epothilone B (EpoB)-resistant, but not dependent, A549 human lung carcinoma cell line, A549.EpoB40 (EpoB40), has a Gln to Glu mutation at residue 292 that is situated near the M-loop of betaI-tubulin. Further selection of this cell line with higher concentrations of EpoB produced A549.EpoB480 (EpoB480), which is approximately 900-fold resistant to EpoB. This cell line, like EpoB40, exhibits cross-resistance to Taxol and extreme sensitivity to vinblastine, but in contrast to EpoB40 it is unusually dependent on EpoB, requiring a minimum of 125 nmol/L EpoB to maintain normal growth. Sequence analysis of the beta-tubulin and Kalpha1-tubulin genes in EpoB480 showed that, in addition to the beta292 mutation, beta60 was mutated from Val to Phe and alpha195 was mutated from Leu to Met. Mass spectrometry indicated that both the Val(60)Phe and Leu(195)Met mutations in betaI- and Kalpha1-tubulin, respectively, were expressed at the protein level. Molecular modeling indicated that beta60 is located at the end of the H1-S2 loop that has been implicated as a principal partner of the M-loop for contacts between protofilaments. A mutation at beta60 could inhibit the lateral contacts between protofilaments, thereby destabilizing microtubules. alpha195 is located at the external surface of the microtubule that has been proposed as the domain that interacts with a variety of endogenous proteins, such as stathmin and microtubule-associated protein 4. A mutation at alpha195 could modulate the interactions between tubulin and regulatory proteins. We propose that the betaVal(60)Phe mutation plays a critical role in the drug-dependent phenotype of EpoB480 cells.

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