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1.  Characterization of the Colchicine Binding Site on Avian Tubulin Isotype βVI† 
Biochemistry  2010;49(13):2932-2942.
Tubulin, the basic component of microtubules, is present in most eukaryotic cells as multiple gene products, called isotypes. The major tubulin isotypes are highly conserved in terms of structure and drug binding capabilities. The tubulin isotype βVI, however, is significantly divergent from the other isotypes in sequence, assembly properties and function. It is the major β-tubulin isotype of hematopoietic tissue and forms the microtubules of platelet marginal bands. The interaction of the major tubulin isotypes βI, βII, βIII and βIV with antimicrotubule drugs has been widely studied, but little is known about the drug binding properties of tubulin isotype βVI. In this investigation, we characterized the activity of various colchicine-site ligands with tubulin isolated from Gallus gallus erythrocytes (CeTb), which is ~95% βVI. Colchicine binding is thought to be a universal property of higher eukaryotic tubulin; however, we were unable to detect colchicine binding to CeTb under any experimental conditions. Podophyllotoxin and nocodazole, other colchicine-site ligands with divergent structures, were able to inhibit paclitaxel-induced CeTb assembly. Surprisingly, the colchicine isomer allocolchicine also inhibited CeTb assembly and displayed measurable, moderate affinity for CeTb (Ka = 0.18 × 105 M−1 vs. 5.0 × 105 M−1 for bovine brain tubulin). Since allocolchicine and colchicine differ in their C ring structures, the two C-ring colchicine analogues were also tested for CeTb binding. Kinetic experiments indicate that thiocolchicine and chlorocolchicine bind to CeTb, but very slowly and with low affinity. Molecular modeling of CeTb identified five divergent amino acid residues within 6 Å of the colchicine binding site compared to βI, βII, and βIV; three of these amino acids are also altered in βIII-tubulin. Interestingly, the altered amino acids are in the vicinity of the A ring region of the colchicine binding site rather than the C ring region. We propose that the amino acid differences in the binding site constrict the A ring binding domain in CeTb, which interferes with the positioning of the trimethoxyphenyl A ring and prevents C ring binding site interactions from efficiently occurring. Allocolchicine is able to accommodate the altered binding mode because of its smaller ring size and more flexible C ring substituents. The sequence of the colchicine binding domain of CeTb βVI-isotype is almost identical to that of it human hematopoietic counterpart. Thus, through analysis of the interactions of ligands with CeTb, it may be possible to discover colchicine site ligands that specifically target tubulin in human hematopoietic cells.
PMCID: PMC2852430  PMID: 20178367
2.  A neurosteroid analogue photolabeling reagent labels the colchicine binding site on tubulin: A mass spectrometric analysis 
Electrophoresis  2012;33(4):666-674.
Previous studies have shown that the neurosteroid analogue, 6-Azi-pregnanolone (6-AziP), photolabels voltage-dependent anion channels and proteins of approximately 55 kDa in rat brain membranes. The present study used two dimensional electrophoresis and nano-electrospray ionization ion trap mass spectrometry (nano-ESI-MS) to identify the 55 kDa proteins (pI 4.8) as isoforms of β-tubulin. This identification was confirmed by immuno-blot and immunoprecipitation of photolabeled protein with anti-β-tubulin antibody and by the demonstration that 6-AziP photolabels purified bovine brain tubulin in a concentration-dependent pattern. To identify the photolabeling sites, purified bovine brain tubulin was photolabeled with 6-AziP, digested with trypsin, and analyzed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI). A 6-AziP adduct of TAVCDIPPR (m/z=1287.77), a β-tubulin specific peptide, was detected by MALDI. High resolution LC-MS/MS analysis identified that 6-AziP was covalently bound to cysteine 354 (Cys-354), previously identified as a colchicine binding site. 6-AziP photolabeling was inhibited by 2-methoxyestradiol, an endogenous derivative of estradiol thought to bind to the colchicine site. Structural modeling predicted that neurosteroids could dock in this colchicine site at the interface between α- and β-tubulin with the photolabeling group of 6-AziP positioned proximate to Cys-354.
PMCID: PMC3690291  PMID: 22451060
tubulin; mass spectrometry; photolabeling; neurosteroids
3.  Promotion of Tubulin Assembly by Poorly Soluble Taxol Analogs 
Analytical biochemistry  2006;360(1):56-62.
Promotion or inhibition of tubulin assembly into microtubules is the standard in vitro assay for evaluating potential antimicrotubule agents. Many agents to be tested are poorly soluble in aqueous solution and require a cosolvent such as DMSO4. However, DMSO itself can promote tubulin assembly, and its inclusion in assays for compounds that induce tubulin assembly complicates interpretation of the results. Substituting GDP for GTP in the exchangeable nucleotide binding site of tubulin produces a less active form of the protein, tubulin-GDP. Here it is shown that tubulin-GDP can be assembled into normal microtubules in DMSO concentrations up to 15% (v/v), and polymerization assays performed under these conditions can be compared with assays run under more standard conditions. Assays for measuring the effective concentration of a ligand for promotion of tubulin assembly (EC50), measuring the concentration for inhibition of tubulin assembly (IC50) by a colchicine site ligand, and for measuring tubulin critical concentrations in the presence of poorly soluble taxol derivatives are illustrated.
PMCID: PMC1868410  PMID: 17097592
Taxol; Microtubules; Assembly promotion; Tubulin-GDP; DMSO; Solubility; Critical concentration
4.  Interplay of cyclic AMP and microtubules in modulating the initiation of DNA synthesis in 3T3 cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1983;96(6):1743-1750.
The results presented here show that disruption of the microtubule network acts synergistically with cAMP-elevating agents to stimulate the entry into DNA synthesis of 3T3 cells. Antimicrotubule agents and increased cAMP levels require an additional growth-promoting factor for inducing initiation of DNA synthesis; such requirement can be furnished by insulin, vasopressin, epidermal growth factor, platelet-derived growth factor, or fibroblast-derived growth factor. The involvement of the microtubules is indicated by the fact that enhancement of the DNA synthetic response was demonstrated with the chemically diverse agents colchicine, nocodazole, vinblastine, or demecolcine, all of which elicited the response in a dose-dependent manner. We verified that colchicine and nocodazole, at the doses used in this study, induced microtubule disassembly in the absence as well as in the presence of cAMP-elevating agents as judged by measurement of [3H]colchicine binding of total and pelletable tubulin. The involvement of cAMP was revealed by increasing its endogenous production by cholera toxin or by treatment with 8BrcAMP. The enhancing effects of antimicrotubule drugs and cAMP-elevating agents could be demonstrated by incorporation of [3H]thymidine into acid-insoluble material, autoradiography of labeled nuclei, or flow cytofluorometric analysis. The addition of antimicrotubule drugs does not increase the intracellular level of cAMP nor does addition of cAMP-elevating agents promote disassembly of microtubules (as judged by measuring [3H]colchicine binding of total and pelletable tubulin) in 3T3 cells. In view of these findings and the striking synergistic effects between these agents in stimulating DNA synthesis in the presence of a peptide growth factor, we conclude that increased cAMP levels and a disrupted microtubule network regulate independent pathways involved in proliferative response.
PMCID: PMC2112466  PMID: 6189842
5.  Evidence for tubulin-binding sites on cellular membranes: plasma membranes, mitochondrial membranes, and secretory granule membranes 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1983;97(1):209-216.
We describe the interaction of pure brain tubulin with purified membranes specialized in different cell functions, i.e., plasma membranes and mitochondrial membranes from liver and secretory granule membranes from adrenal medulla. We studied the tubulin-binding activity of cellular membranes using a radiolabeled ligand-receptor assay and an antibody retention assay. The tubulin-membrane interaction was time- and temperature-dependent, reversible, specific, and saturable. The binding of tubulin to membranes appears to be specific since acidic proteins such as serum albumin or actin did not interfere in the binding process. The apparent overall affinity constant of the tubulin- membrane interaction ranged between 1.5 and 3.0 X 10(7) M-1; similar values were obtained for the three types of membranes. Tubulin bound to membranes was not entrapped into vesicles since it reacted quantitatively with antitubulin antibodies. At saturation of the tubulin-binding sites, the amount of reversibly bound tubulin represents 5-10% by weight of membrane protein (0.4-0.9 nmol tubulin/mg membrane protein). The high tubulin-binding capacity of membranes seems to be inconsistent with a 1:1 stoichiometry between tubulin and a membrane component but could be relevant to a kind of tubulin assembly. Indeed, tubulin-membrane interaction had some properties in common with microtubule formation: (a) the association of tubulin to membranes increased with the temperature, whereas the dissociation of tubulin- membrane complexes increased by decreasing temperature; (b) the binding of tubulin to membranes was prevented by phosphate buffer. However, the tubulin-membrane interaction differed from tubulin polymerization in several aspects: (a) it occurred at concentrations far below the critical concentration for polymerization; (b) it was not inhibited at low ionic strength and (c) it was colchicine-insensitive. Plasma membranes, mitochondrial membranes, and secretory granule membranes contained tubulin as an integral component. This was demonstrated on intact membrane and on Nonidet P-40 solubilized membrane protein using antitubulin antibodies in antibody retention and radioimmune assays. Membrane tubulin content varied from 2.2 to 4.4 micrograms/mg protein. The involvement of membrane tubulin in tubulin-membrane interactions remains questionable since erythrocyte membranes devoid of membrane tubulin exhibited a low (one-tenth of that of rat liver plasma membranes) but significant tubulin-binding activity. These results show that membranes specialized in different cell functions possess high- affinity, large-capacity tubulin-binding sites...
PMCID: PMC2112501  PMID: 6863392
6.  A radiolabeled monoclonal antibody binding assay for cytoskeletal tubulin in cultured cells 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1986;103(3):1033-1041.
To detect changes in the extent of tubulin polymerization in cultured cells, we have developed a radioactive antibody binding assay that can be used to quantitate total cytoskeletal tubulin or specific antigenic subsets of polymerized tubulin. Fibroblastic cells, grown to confluence in multiwell plates, were permeabilized and extracted with 0.5% Triton X-100 in a microtubule-stabilizing buffer. These extracted cytoskeletons were then fixed and incubated with translationally radiolabeled monoclonal antitubulin antibody (Ab 1-1.1), an IgM antibody specific for the beta subunit of tubulin. Specific binding of Ab 1-1.1 to the cytoskeletons was saturable and of a single apparent affinity. All specific binding was blocked by preincubation of the radiolabeled antibody with excess purified brain tubulin. Specific Ab 1- 1.1 binding appeared to represent binding to cytoskeletal tubulin inasmuch as: pretreatment of cells with colchicine decreased Ab 1-1.1 binding in a dose-dependent manner which correlated with the amount of polymerized tubulin visualized in parallel cultures by indirect immunofluorescence, taxol pretreatment alone caused an increase in Ab 1- 1.1 binding and prevented in a dose-dependent manner the colchicine- induced decrease in antibody binding, in cells pretreated with colcemid and returned to fresh medium, Ab 1-1.1 binding decreased and recovered in parallel with the depolymerization and regrowth of microtubules in these cells, and comparison of maximal antibody binding per cell between primary mouse embryo, 3T3, and human foreskin fibroblasts correlated with immunofluorescence visualization of microtubules in these cells. Thus, this assay can be used to measure relative changes in the level of polymerized cytoskeletal tubulin. Moreover, by Scatchard-type analysis of the binding data it is possible to estimate the total number of antibody binding sites per cell. Therefore, depending on the stoichiometry of antibody binding, this type of assay may be used for quantitating total cytoskeletal tubulin, specific antigenic subsets of cytoskeletal tubulin, or other cytoskeletal proteins.
PMCID: PMC2114285  PMID: 3528166
The Journal of Cell Biology  1973;58(3):709-719.
The thermal depolymerization procedure of Stephens (1970. J. Mol. Biol. 47:353) has been employed for solubilization of Strongylocentrotus purpuratus sperm tail outer doublet microtubules with the use of a buffer during solubilization which is of optimal pH and ionic strength for the preservation of colchicine binding activity of chick embryo brain tubulin. Colchicine binding values were corrected for first-order decay during heat solubilization at 50°C (t½ = 5.4 min) and incubation with colchicine at 37°C in the presence of vinblastine sulfate (t½ = 485 min). The colchicine binding properties of heat-solubilized outer doublet tubulin were qualitatively identical with those of other soluble forms of tubulin. The solubilized tubulin (mol wt, 115,000) bound 0.9 ± 0.2 mol of colchicine per mol of tubulin, with a binding constant of 6.3 x 105 liters/mol at 37°C. The colchicine binding reaction was both time and temperature dependent, and the binding of colchicine was prevented in a competitive manner by podophyllotoxin (Ki = 1.3 x 10-6 M). The first-order decay of colchicine binding activity was substantially decreased by the addition of the vinca alkaloids, vinblastine sulfate or vincristine sulfate, thus demonstrating the presence of a vinca alkaloid binding site(s) on the outer doublet tubulin. Tubulin contained within the assembled microtubules did not decay. Intact outer doublet microtubules bound less than 0.001 mol of colchicine per mol of tubulin contained in the microtubules, under conditions where soluble tubulin would have bound 1 mol of colchicine per mol of tubulin (saturating concentration of colchicine, no decay of colchicine binding activity). The presence of colchicine had no effect on the rate of solubilization of outer doublet microtubules during incubation at 37°C. Therefore, the colchicine binding site on tubulin is blocked (not available to bind colchicine) when the tubulin is in the assembled outer doublet microtubules.
PMCID: PMC2109066  PMID: 4747924
8.  The biphasic kinetics of Colchicine-Tubulin interaction : Role of amino acids surrounding the A-ring of bound colchicine molecule 
Biochemistry  2005;44(30):10181-10188.
Isotypes of vertebrate tubulin have variable amino acid sequences which are clustered at their C-terminal ends. Isotypes bind colchicine at different on-rates and affinity constants. The kinetics of colchicine binding to purified (unfractionated) brain tubulin have been reported to be biphasic under pseudo-first order conditions. Experiments with individual isotypes established that the presence of βIII in the purified tubulin is responsible for the biphasic kinetics. Since the isotypes mainly differ at the C-termini, the colchicine binding kinetics of unfractionated tubulin and the βIII isotype, cleaved at the C-termini, have been tested under pseudo-first order conditions. Removal of the C-termini made no difference to the nature of the kinetics. Sequence alignment of different β isotypes of tubulin showed that besides the C-terminal region, there are differences in the main body as well. In order to establish whether these differences lie at the colchicine binding site or not, homology modeling of all β tubulin isotypes was done. We found that the isotypes differed from each other in the amino acids located near the A-ring of colchicine at the colchicine-binding site on β-tubulin. While the βIII isotype has two hydrophilic residues (Serine242 and Threonine317) both βII and βIV have two hydrophobic residues (Leucine242 and Alanine317). βII has Isoleucine at position 318, while βIII and βIV have Valine at that position. Thus these alterations in the nature of the amino acids surrounding the colchicine site could be responsible for the different colchicine binding kinetics of the different isotypes of tubulin.
PMCID: PMC4275128  PMID: 16042395
9.  A Screen for Kinetochore-Microtubule Interaction Inhibitors Identifies Novel Antitubulin Compounds 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11603.
Protein assemblies named kinetochores bind sister chromatids to the mitotic spindle and orchestrate sister chromatid segregation. Interference with kinetochore activity triggers a spindle checkpoint mediated arrest in mitosis, which frequently ends in cell death. We set out to identify small compounds that inhibit kinetochore-microtubule binding for use in kinetochore-spindle interaction studies and to develop them into novel anticancer drugs.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A fluorescence microscopy-based in vitro assay was developed to screen compound libraries for molecules that prevented the binding of a recombinant human Ndc80 kinetochore complex to taxol-stabilized microtubules. An active compound was identified that acted at the microtubule level. More specifically, by localizing to the colchicine-binding site in αβ-tubulin the hit compound prevented the Ndc80 complex from binding to the microtubule surface. Next, structure-activity analyses distinguished active regions in the compound and led to the identification of highly potent analogs that killed cancer cells with an efficacy equaling that of established spindle drugs.
The compound identified in our screen and its subsequently identified analogs represent new antitubulin chemotypes that can be synthetically developed into a novel class of antimitotic spindle drugs. In addition, they are stereochemically unique as their R- and S-isomers mimic binding of colchicine and podophyllotoxin, respectively, two antitubulin drugs that interact differently with the tubulin interface. Model-driven manipulation of our compounds promises to advance insight into how antitubulin drugs act upon tubulin. These advances in turn may lead to tailor-made colchicine site agents which would be valuable new assets to fight a variety of tumors, including those that have become resistant to the (antispindle) drugs used today.
PMCID: PMC2904697  PMID: 20657644
10.  Docking, Synthesis and Antiproliferative Activity of N-Acylhydrazone Derivatives Designed as Combretastatin A4 Analogues 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e85380.
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the USA. Among the known classes of anticancer agents, the microtubule-targeted antimitotic drugs are considered to be one of the most important. They are usually classified into microtubule-destabilizing (e.g., Vinca alkaloids) and microtubule-stabilizing (e.g., paclitaxel) agents. Combretastatin A4 (CA-4), which is a natural stilbene isolated from Combretum caffrum, is a microtubule-destabilizing agent that binds to the colchicine domain on β-tubulin and exhibits a lower toxicity profile than paclitaxel or the Vinca alkaloids. In this paper, we describe the docking study, synthesis, antiproliferative activity and selectivity index of the N-acylhydrazone derivatives (5a–r) designed as CA-4 analogues. The essential structural requirements for molecular recognition by the colchicine binding site of β-tubulin were recognized, and several compounds with moderate to high antiproliferative potency (IC50 values ≤18 µM and ≥4 nM) were identified. Among these active compounds, LASSBio-1586 (5b) emerged as a simple antitumor drug candidate, which is capable of inhibiting microtubule polymerization and possesses a broad in vitro and in vivo antiproliferative profile, as well as a better selectivity index than the prototype CA-4, indicating improved selective cytotoxicity toward cancer cells.
PMCID: PMC3948622  PMID: 24614859
11.  In-silico Investigation of Tubulin Binding Modes of a Series of Novel Antiproliferative Spiroisoxazoline Compounds Using Docking Studies 
Interference with microtubule polymerization results in cell cycle arrest leading to cell death. Colchicine is a well-known microtubule polymerization inhibitor which does so by binding to a specific site on tubulin. A set of 3', 4'-bis (substituted phenyl)-4'H-spiro [indene-2, 5'-isoxazol]-1(3H)-one derivatives with known antiproliferative activities were evaluated for their tubulin binding modes. 3D structures of the derivatives were docked into the colchicine binding site of tubulin using GOLD 5.0 program under flexible ligand and semi-flexible receptor condition. The spiroisoxazoline derivatives bind tubulin in a similar manner to colchicine by establishing at least a hydrogen bonding to Cys241 as well as hydrophobic interactions with Leu255, Ile378 and Lys254 and few other residues at the binding pocket. It can be concluded that the spiroisoxazoline core structure common to the studied derivatives is a suitable scaffold for placing the antitubulin pharmacophoric groups in appropriate spatial positions required for tubulin binding activity.
PMCID: PMC4277627  PMID: 25561920
Spiroisoxazoline; Molecular docking; Ligand protein interactions
12.  Class III β-tubulin expression and in vitro resistance to microtubule targeting agents 
British Journal of Cancer  2009;102(2):316-324.
Class III β-tubulin overexpression is a marker of resistance to microtubule disruptors in vitro, in vivo and in the clinic for many cancers, including breast cancer. The aims of this study were to develop a new model of class III β-tubulin expression, avoiding the toxicity associated with chronic overexpression of class III β-tubulin, and study the efficacy of a panel of clinical and pre-clinical drugs in this model.
MCF-7 (ER+ve) and MDA-MB-231 (ER−ve) were either transfected with pALTER-TUBB3 or siRNA-tubb3 and 24 h later exposed to test compounds for a further 96 h for proliferation studies. RT–PCR and immunoblotting were used to monitor the changes in class III β-tubulin mRNA and protein expression.
The model allowed for subtle changes in class III β-tubulin expression to be achieved, which had no direct effect on the viability of the cells. Class III β-tubulin overexpression conferred resistance to paclitaxel and vinorelbine, whereas downregulation of class III β-tubulin rendered cells more sensitive to these two drugs. The efficacy of the colchicine-site binding agents, 2-MeOE2, colchicine, STX140, ENMD1198 and STX243 was unaffected by the changes in class III β-tubulin expression.
These data indicate that the effect of class III β-tubulin overexpression may depend on where the drug's binding site is located on the tubulin. Therefore, this study highlights for the first time the potential key role of targeting the colchicine-binding site, to develop new treatment modalities for taxane-refractory breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC2816659  PMID: 20029418
class III β-tubulin; microtubule disruptor; paclitaxel; STX140; MCF-7 cells; MDA-MB-231 cells
13.  Colchicine-binding protein of the liver. Its characterization and relation to microtubules 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1975;66(3):609-620.
Colchicine-binding activity of mouse liver high-speed supernate has been investigated. It has been found to be time and temperature dependent. Two binding activities with different affinities for colchicine seem to be present in this high-speed supernate, of which only the high-affinity binding site (half maximal binding at 5 x 10(-6) M colchicine) can be attributed to microtubular protein by comparison with purified tubulin. Vinblastine interacted with this binding activity by precipitating it when used at high concentrations (2 x 10(- 3) M), and by stabilizing it at low concentrations (10(-5) M). Lumicolchicine was found not to compete with colchicine. The colchicine-binding activity was purified from liver and compared with that of microtubular protein from brain. The specific binding activity of the resulting preparation, its electrophoretic behavior, and the electron microscope appearance of the paracrystals obtained upon its precipitation with vinblastine permitted its identification as microtubular protein (tubulin). Electrophoretic analysis of the proteins from liver supernate that were precipitated by vinblastine indicated that this drug was not specific for liver tubulin. Preincubation of liver supernate with 5 mM EGTA resulted in a time- dependent decrease of colchicine-binding activity, which was partly reversed by the addition of Ca++. However, an in vitro formation of microtubules upon lowering the Ca++ concentration could not be detected. Finally, a method was developed enabling that portion of microtubular protein which was present as free tubulin to be measured and to be compared with the total amount of this protein in the tissue. This procedure permitted demonstration of the fact that, under normal conditions, only about 40% of the tubulin of the liver was assemled as microtubules. It is suggested that, in the liver, rapid polymerization and depolymerization of microtubules occur and may be an important facet of the functional role of the microtubular system.
PMCID: PMC2109447  PMID: 808552
14.  Detyrosination of Tubulin Regulates the Interaction of Intermediate Filaments with Microtubules In Vivo via a Kinesin-dependent Mechanism 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1999;10(4):1105-1118.
Posttranslationally modified forms of tubulin accumulate in the subset of stabilized microtubules (MTs) in cells but are not themselves involved in generating MT stability. We showed previously that stabilized, detyrosinated (Glu) MTs function to localize vimentin intermediate filaments (IFs) in fibroblasts. To determine whether tubulin detyrosination or MT stability is the critical element in the preferential association of IFs with Glu MTs, we microinjected nonpolymerizable Glu tubulin into cells. If detyrosination is critical, then soluble Glu tubulin should be a competitive inhibitor of the IF–MT interaction. Before microinjection, Glu tubulin was rendered nonpolymerizable and nontyrosinatable by treatment with iodoacetamide (IAA). Microinjected IAA-Glu tubulin disrupted the interaction of IFs with MTs, as assayed by the collapse of IFs to a perinuclear location, and had no detectable effect on the array of Glu or tyrosinated MTs in cells. Conversely, neither IAA-tyrosinated tubulin nor untreated Glu tubulin, which assembled into MTs, caused collapse of IFs when microinjected. The epitope on Glu tubulin responsible for interfering with the Glu MT–IF interaction was mapped by microinjecting tubulin fragments of α-tubulin. The 14-kDa C-terminal fragment of Glu tubulin (α-C Glu) induced IF collapse, whereas the 36-kDa N-terminal fragment of α-tubulin did not alter the IF array. The epitope required more than the detyrosination site at the C terminus, because a short peptide (a 7-mer) mimicking the C terminus of Glu tubulin did not disrupt the IF distribution. We previously showed that kinesin may mediate the interaction of Glu MTs and IFs. In this study we found that kinesin binding to MTs in vitro was inhibited by the same reagents (i.e., IAA-Glu tubulin and α-C Glu) that disrupted the IF–Glu MT interaction in vivo. These results demonstrate for the first time that tubulin detyrosination functions as a signal for the recruitment of IFs to MTs via a mechanism that is likely to involve kinesin.
PMCID: PMC25238  PMID: 10198060
15.  The Roles of β-Tubulin Mutations and Isotype Expression in Acquired Drug Resistance 
Cancer Informatics  2007;3:159-181.
The antitumor drug paclitaxel stabilizes microtubules and reduces their dynamicity, promoting mitotic arrest and eventually apoptosis. Upon assembly of the α/β-tubulin heterodimer, GTP becomes bound to both the α and β-tubulin monomers. During microtubule assembly, the GTP bound to β-tubulin is hydrolyzed to GDP, eventually reaching steady-state equilibrium between free tubulin dimers and those polymerized into microtubules. Tubulin-binding drugs such as paclitaxel interact with β-tubulin, resulting in the disruption of this equilibrium. In spite of several crystal structures of tubulin, there is little biochemical insight into the mechanism by which anti-tubulin drugs target microtubules and alter their normal behavior. The mechanism of drug action is further complicated, as the description of altered β-tubulin isotype expression and/or mutations in tubulin genes may lead to drug resistance as has been described in the literature. Because of the relationship between β-tubulin isotype expression and mutations within β-tubulin, both leading to resistance, we examined the properties of altered residues within the taxane, colchicine and Vinca binding sites. The amount of data now available, allows us to investigate common patterns that lead to microtubule disruption and may provide a guide to the rational design of novel compounds that can inhibit microtubule dynamics for specific tubulin isotypes or, indeed resistant cell lines. Because of the vast amount of data published to date, we will only provide a broad overview of the mutational results and how these correlate with differences between tubulin isotypes. We also note that clinical studies describe a number of predictive factors for the response to anti-tubulin drugs and attempt to develop an understanding of the features within tubulin that may help explain how they may affect both microtubule assembly and stability.
PMCID: PMC2675838  PMID: 19455242
Tubulin; Microtubule; Isotype; Paclitaxel; Cancer; Resistance; Mutant
16.  Taxol-induced rose microtubule polymerization in vitro and its inhibition by colchicine 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1984;99(1 Pt 1):141-147.
Tubulin was isolated from cultured cells of rose (Rosa, Paul's scarlet) by DEAE-Sephadex A50 chromatography, and the taxol-induced polymerization of microtubules in vitro was characterized at 24 degrees C by turbidity development, sedimentation analysis, and electron microscopy. Numerous, short microtubules were formed in the presence of taxol, and maximum levels of turbidity and polymer yield were obtained at approximately 2:1 molar ratios of taxol to tubulin. The critical concentration of rose tubulin for polymerization in saturating taxol was estimated to be 0.21 mg/ml. Colchicine inhibited the taxol-induced polymerization of tubulin as shown by sedimentation assays; however, much higher concentrations of colchicine were required for the inhibition of taxol-induced rose tubulin assembly than for inhibition of taxol-induced mammalian brain tubulin assembly. On the basis of the relative sensitivity of rose tubulin assembly to taxol and its insensitivity to colchicine, we propose that the taxol-binding site(s) on plant and animal tubulins have been more conserved over evolution than the colchicine-binding site(s).
PMCID: PMC2275629  PMID: 6145718
17.  Comparative Analyses of the β-Tubulin Gene and Molecular Modeling Reveal Molecular Insight into the Colchicine Resistance in Kinetoplastids Organisms 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:843748.
Differential susceptibility to microtubule agents has been demonstrated between mammalian cells and kinetoplastid organisms such as Leishmania spp. and Trypanosoma spp. The aims of this study were to identify and characterize the architecture of the putative colchicine binding site of Leishmania spp. and investigate the molecular basis of colchicine resistance. We cloned and sequenced the β-tubulin gene of Leishmania (Viannia) guyanensis and established the theoretical 3D model of the protein, using the crystallographic structure of the bovine protein as template. We identified mutations on the Leishmania  β-tubulin gene sequences on regions related to the putative colchicine-binding pocket, which generate amino acid substitutions and changes in the topology of this region, blocking the access of colchicine. The same mutations were found in the β-tubulin sequence of kinetoplastid organisms such as Trypanosoma cruzi, T. brucei, and T. evansi. Using molecular modelling approaches, we demonstrated that conformational changes include an elongation and torsion of an α-helix structure and displacement to the inside of the pocket of one β-sheet that hinders access of colchicine. We propose that kinetoplastid organisms show resistance to colchicine due to amino acids substitutions that generate structural changes in the putative colchicine-binding domain, which prevent colchicine access.
PMCID: PMC3780476  PMID: 24083244
18.  NMK-TD-100, a Novel Microtubule Modulating Agent, Blocks Mitosis and Induces Apoptosis in HeLa Cells by Binding to Tubulin 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76286.
Thiadiazoles are one of the most widely utilized agents in medicinal chemistry, having a wide range of pharmacologic activity. Microtubules (MTs) have always remained a sought-after target in rapidly proliferating cancer cells. We screened for the growth inhibitory effect of synthetic 5-(3-indolyl)-2-substituted-1,3,4-thiadiazoles on cancer cells and identified NMK-TD-100, as the most potent agent. Cell viability experiments using human cervical carcinoma cell line (HeLa cells) indicated that the IC50 value was 1.42±0.11 µM for NMK-TD-100 for 48 h treatment. In further study, we examined the mode of interaction of NMK-TD-100 with tubulin and unraveled the cellular mechanism responsible for its anti-tumor activity. NMK-TD-100 induced arrest in mitotic phase of cell cycle, caused decline in mitochondrial membrane potential and induced apoptosis in HeLa cells. Immunofluorescence studies using an anti-α-tubulin antibody showed a significant depolymerization of the interphase microtubule network and spindle microtubule in HeLa cells in a concentration-dependent manner. However, the cytotoxicity of NMK-TD-100 towards human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) was lower compared to that in cancer cells. Polymerization of tissue purified tubulin into microtubules was inhibited by NMK-TD-100 with an IC50 value of 17.5±0.35 µM. The binding of NMK-TD-100 with tubulin was studied using NMK-TD-100 fluorescence enhancement and intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence of tubulin. The stoichiometry of NMK-TD-100 binding to tubulin is 1:1 (molar ratio) with a dissociation constant of ~1 µM. Fluorescence spectroscopic and molecular modeling data showed that NMK-TD-100 binds to tubulin at a site which is very near to the colchicine binding site. The binding of NMK-TD-100 to tubulin was estimated to be ~10 times faster than that of colchicine. The results indicated that NMK-TD-100 exerted anti-proliferative activity by disrupting microtubule functions through tubulin binding and provided insights into its potential of being a chemotherapeutic agent.
PMCID: PMC3792137  PMID: 24116100
19.  The Free Energy Profile of Tubulin Straight-Bent Conformational Changes, with Implications for Microtubule Assembly and Drug Discovery 
PLoS Computational Biology  2014;10(2):e1003464.
αβ-tubulin dimers need to convert between a ‘bent’ conformation observed for free dimers in solution and a ‘straight’ conformation required for incorporation into the microtubule lattice. Here, we investigate the free energy landscape of αβ-tubulin using molecular dynamics simulations, emphasizing implications for models of assembly, and modulation of the conformational landscape by colchicine, a tubulin-binding drug that inhibits microtubule polymerization. Specifically, we performed molecular dynamics, potential-of-mean force simulations to obtain the free energy profile for unpolymerized GDP-bound tubulin as a function of the ∼12° intradimer rotation differentiating the straight and bent conformers. Our results predict that the unassembled GDP-tubulin heterodimer exists in a continuum of conformations ranging between straight and bent, but, in agreement with existing structural data, suggests that an intermediate bent state has a lower free energy (by ∼1 kcal/mol) and thus dominates in solution. In agreement with predictions of the lattice model of microtubule assembly, lateral binding of two αβ-tubulins strongly shifts the conformational equilibrium towards the straight state, which is then ∼1 kcal/mol lower in free energy than the bent state. Finally, calculations of colchicine binding to a single αβ-tubulin dimer strongly shifts the equilibrium toward the bent states, and disfavors the straight state to the extent that it is no longer thermodynamically populated.
Author Summary
Microtubules are composed of αβ-tubulins that play an instrumental role in regulating intracellular trafficking and formation of the mitotic spindle during mitosis and cell division. Structural studies have shown that tubulin exists in a “straight” conformation compatible with that in the microtubule lattice and a “bent” conformation thought to represent the unassembled state. There is current debate as to whether the straight-to-bent conformational change in tubulin is the cause or consequence of tubulin's assembly into the microtubule lattice. Here, we use free-energy molecular dynamics simulations to qualitatively understand the conformational landscape of tubulin in the unassembled state and upon lateral binding. We predict that soluble tubulin exists primarily in a bent conformation; our simulation results show that tubulin primarily adopts an intermediately bent conformation in agreement with structural data. We also show that lateral binding of two tubulins shifts the equilibrium in favor of the “straight” state, supporting the hypothesis that the straight-to-bent conformational change is the consequence of tubulin's incorporation into the microtubule lattice via lateral interactions. We also show that colchicine binding shifts the population of tubulin in favor of a bent state, further implicating our work in drug discovery.
PMCID: PMC3916224  PMID: 24516374
20.  Differential binding of methyl benzimidazol-2-yl carbamate to fungal tubulin as a mechanism of resistance to this antimitotic agent in mutant strains of Aspergillus nidulans 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1977;72(1):174-193.
The antimitotic compound methyl benzimidazol-2-yl carbamate (MBC) formed a complex in vitro with a protein present in mycelial extracts of fungi. The binding protein of Aspergillus nidulans showed a set of properties which is unique for tubulin. Binding occurred rapidly at 4 degrees C and was competitively inhibited by oncodazole and colchicine. Other inhibitors of microtubule function such as podophyllotoxin, vinblastine sulfate, melatonin, and griseofulvin did not interfere with binding of MBC. Electrophoretic analysis of partially purified preparations of the binding protein revealed the presence of proteins with similar mobilities as mammalian tubulin monomers. Hence it is concluded that the binding protein is identical with fungal tubulin. The effect of MBC on mycelial growth of mutant strains of A. nidulans was positively correlated with the affinity of the binding sites for this compound. The apparent binding constant for MBC and tubulin from a wild type was estimated at 4.5 X 10(5), from a resistant strain at 3.7 X 10(4), and from a strain with increased sensitivity to MBC at 1.6 X 10(6) liters/mol. Mutants showing resistance and increased sensitivity to MBC are candidates to have alterations in tubulin structure. Affinity of tubulin for MBC is probably a common mechanism of resistance to this compound in fungi. Low affinity of tubulin for MBC is probably a common mechanism of resistance binding constant of 2.5 X 10(3) liters/mol.
PMCID: PMC2110979  PMID: 12184
21.  Anti-microtubule activity of tubeimoside I and its colchicine binding site of tubulin 
Tubeimoside I (TBMS1) was isolated from the tubers of Bolbostemma paniculatum (Maxim.) Franquet. TBMS1 shows potent anti-tumor activity. The present study was conducted to investigate the anti-microtubule role of TBMS1 and its binding site of tubulin.
Cell growth inhibition was measured by MTT after treatment with TBMS1. Uptake kinetics of TBMS1 by human nasopharyngeal carcinoma CNE-2Z cell line (CNE-2Z) was assayed by HPLC. Microtubule protein (MTP) was prepared from porcine brain through two cycles of polymerization–depolymerization in a high molarity buffer. Inhibition of MTP polymerization induced by TBMS1 was determined by a turbidity measurement and a sedimentation assay; the interactions of TBMS1 with tubulin within CNE-2Z cells were investigated by immunofluorescence microscopy and immunoblotting. TBMS1 was tested for its ability to inhibit binding of known tubulin ligands through competitive binding assay.
TBMS1 displayed growth inhibitory activity against CNE-2Z cells with IC50 value of 16.7 μM for 72 h. HPLC analysis of TBMS1 uptake by CNE-2Z cells displayed the initial slow TBMS1 uptake and then gradually reaching an maximum uptake near 18 h. CNE-2Z cells treated with TBMS1 (25 μM, 3 h) were sufficient to cause the microtubular network disruption. Immunoblot analysis showed that the proportion of cytosolic tubulin of cells treated with TBMS1 increased in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. TBMS1 did not inhibit the binding of vinblastine to tubulin. Colchicine binding to tubulin was inhibited in the presence of TBMS1.
TBMS1 is an anti-microtubule agent, and its binding site of tubulin is the colchicine binding site of tubulin.
PMCID: PMC2493533  PMID: 18030471
Bolbostemma paniculatum (Maxim.) Franquet; Tubeimoside I; Uptake kinetics; Anti-microtubule activity; Colchicine binding site of tubulin
22.  Modulation of endogenous β-tubulin isotype expression as a result of human βIII cDNA transfection into prostate carcinoma cells 
British Journal of Cancer  2001;85(5):735-740.
Increases of individual β tubulin isotypes in antimicrotubule drug resistant cell lines have been reported by several laboratories. We have previously described elevations in βIII and βIVa isotypes in estramustine and paclitaxel resistant human prostate carcinoma cells. To investigate further the function of β tubulin isotypes in antimicrotubule drug response, human prostate carcinoma cells that normally have very low to undetectable levels of βIII were stably transfected with βIII cDNA in pZeoSV system. An 18 bp haemagglutinin (HA) epitope tag was added at the 3′ end prior to cloning into the vector. Cells were transfected with pZeoSV or pZeoSV-βIII plasmids and selected in the presence of Zeocin. Immunofluorescent staining of the transfectant cells have shown significant expression and incorporation of HA-tagged βIII tubulin into cellular microtubules. Quantitation of Western blots revealed the HA-tagged βIII levels to be approximately 7-fold higher than the vector control cells. RT-PCR analysis confirmed the increase at the transcript level and also revealed a collateral increase of βII and βIVb transcripts. Cell viability assays indicated that sensitivity of βIII transfected cells to various antimicrotubule agents was similar to vector transfected cells: IC50 values for estramustine, paclitaxel, colchicine and vinblastine were 4 μM, 4 nM, 22 nM and 2 nM, respectively for both cell lines. Thus, overexpression of βIII isotype in human prostate carcinoma cells by stable transfection failed to confer antimicrotubule drug resistance to these cells. Counterregulatory increases of endogenous βII and βIVb tubulin isotypes in these βIII transfected cells may be a compensatory mechanism used by the cells to overcome the effects of elevated βIII levels on the cellular microtubules. These results highlight the difficulty in isolating the contribution of single tubulin isotypes in drug response studies. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaign
PMCID: PMC2364133  PMID: 11531260
tubulin; isotype; antimicrotubule agents; drug resistance; transfection
23.  Discovery of Novel Antitumor Antimitotic Agents That Also Reverse Tumor Resistance1 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2007;50(14):10.1021/jm070194u.
We have discovered a novel series of 7-benzyl-4-methyl-5-[(2-substituted phenyl)ethyl]-7H-pyrrolo[2,3-d]-pyrimidin-2-amines, which possess antimitotic and antitumor activities against antimitotic-sensitive as well as resistant tumor cells. These agents bind to a site on tubulin that is distinct from the colchicine, vinca alkaloid, and paclitaxel binding sites and some, in addition to their antitumor activity, remarkably also reverse tumor resistance to antimitotic agents mediated via the P-glycoprotein efflux pump. The compounds were synthesized from N-(7-benzyl-5-ethynyl-4-methyl-7H-pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidin-2-yl)-2,2-dimethylpro-panamide 11 or the corresponding 5-iodo analog 14 via Sonogashira couplings with appropriate iodobenzenes or phenylacetylene followed by reduction and deprotection to afford the target analogs. Sodium and liquid NH3 afforded the debenzylated analogs. The most potent analog 1 was one to three digit nanomolar against the growth of both sensitive and resistant tumor cells in culture. Compounds of this series are promising novel antimitotic agents that have the potential for treating both sensitive and resistant tumors.
PMCID: PMC3858178  PMID: 17567121
24.  Tubulin-Destabilizing Agent BPR0L075 Induces Vascular-Disruption in Human Breast Cancer Mammary Fat Pad Xenografts 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43314.
BPR0L075, 6-methoxy-3-(3′,4′,5′-trimethoxy-benzoyl)-1H-indole, is a tubulin-binding agent that inhibits tubulin polymerization by binding to the colchicine-binding site. BPR0L075 has shown antimitotic and antiangiogenic activity in vitro. The current study evaluated the vascular-disrupting activity of BPR0L075 in human breast cancer mammary fat pad xenografts using dynamic bioluminescence imaging. A single dose of BPR0L075 (50 mg/kg, intraperitoneally (i.p.)) induced rapid, temporary tumor vascular shutdown (at 2, 4, and 6 hours); evidenced by rapid and reproducible decrease of light emission from luciferase-expressing orthotopic MCF7 and MDA-MB-231 breast tumors after administration of luciferin substrate. A time-dependent reduction of tumor perfusion after BPR0L075 treatment was confirmed by immunohistological staining of the perfusion marker Hoechst 33342 and tumor vasculature marker CD31. The vasculature showed distinct recovery within 24 hours post therapy. A single i.p. injection of 50 mg/kg of BPR0L075 initially produced plasma concentrations in the micromolar range within 6 hours, but subsequent drug distribution and elimination caused BPR0L075 plasma levels to drop rapidly into the nanomolar range within 24 h. Tests with human umbilical vein endothelial (HUVEC) cells and tumor cells in culture showed that BPR0L075 was cytotoxic to both tumor cells and proliferating endothelial cells, and disrupted pre-established vessels in vitro and ex vivo. In conclusion, BPR0L075 caused rapid, albeit, temporary tumor vascular shutdown and led to reduction of tumor perfusion in orthotopic human breast cancer xenografts, suggesting that this antimitotic agent may be useful as a vascular-disrupting cancer therapy.
PMCID: PMC3427339  PMID: 22937031
25.  Direct Modulation of Microtubule Stability Contributes to Anthracene General Anesthesia 
Recently, we identified 1-aminoanthracene as a fluorescent general anesthetic. To investigate the mechanism of action, a photoactive analogue, 1-azidoanthracene, was synthesized. Administration of 1-azidoanthracene to albino stage 40–47 tadpoles was found to immobilize animals upon near-UV irradiation of the forebrain region. The immobilization was often reversible, but it was characterized by a longer duration consistent with covalent attachment of the ligand to functionally important targets. IEF/SDS-PAGE examination of irradiated tadpole brain homogenate revealed labeled protein, identified by mass spectrometry as β-tubulin. In vitro assays with aminoanthracene-cross-linked tubulin indicated inhibition of microtubule polymerization, similar to colchicine. Tandem mass spectrometry confirmed anthracene binding near the colchicine site. Stage 40–47 tadpoles were also incubated 1 h with microtubule stabilizing agents, epothilone D or discodermolide, followed by dosing with 1-aminoanthracene. The effective concentration of 1-aminoanthracene required to immobilize the tadpoles was significantly increased in the presence of either microtubule stabilizing agent. Epothilone D similarly mitigated the effects of a clinical neurosteroid general anesthetic, allopregnanolone, believed to occupy the colchicine site in tubulin. We conclude that neuronal microtubules are “on-pathway” targets for anthracene general anesthetics and may also represent functional targets for some neurosteroid general anesthetics.
PMCID: PMC3671381  PMID: 23484901

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