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Open Access Research article

Mitotic slippage in non-cancer cells induced by a microtubule disruptor, disorazole C1

Fengfeng L Xu1, Youssef Rbaibi1, Kirill Kiselyov1, John S Lazo2, Peter Wipf3 and William S Saunders1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA

2 Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA

3 Department of Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261, USA

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BMC Chemical Biology 2010, 10:1  doi:10.1186/1472-6769-10-1

Published: 11 February 2010



Disorazoles are polyene macrodiolides isolated from a myxobacterium fermentation broth. Disorazole C1 was newly synthesized and found to depolymerize microtubules and cause mitotic arrest. Here we examined the cellular responses to disorazole C1 in both non-cancer and cancer cells and compared our results to vinblastine and taxol.


In non-cancer cells, disorazole C1 induced a prolonged mitotic arrest, followed by mitotic slippage, as confirmed by live cell imaging and cell cycle analysis. This mitotic slippage was associated with cyclin B degradation, but did not require p53. Four assays for apoptosis, including western blotting for poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage, microscopic analyses for cytochrome C release and annexin V staining, and gel electrophoresis examination for DNA laddering, were conducted and demonstrated little induction of apoptosis in non-cancer cells treated with disorazole C1. On the contrary, we observed an activated apoptotic pathway in cancer cells, suggesting that normal and malignant cells respond differently to disorazole C1.


Our studies demonstrate that non-cancer cells undergo mitotic slippage in a cyclin B-dependent and p53-independent manner after prolonged mitotic arrest caused by disorazole C1. In contrast, cancer cells induce the apoptotic pathway after disorazole C1 treatment, indicating a possibly significant therapeutic window for this compound.