Publications

2012
Hu C-K, Ozlü N, Coughlin M, Steen JJ, Mitchison TJ. Plk1 negatively regulates PRC1 to prevent premature midzone formation before cytokinesis. Mol Biol Cell. 2012;23 (14) :2702-11.Abstract
To achieve mitosis and cytokinesis, microtubules must assemble into distinct structures at different stages of cell division-mitotic spindles to segregate the chromosomes before anaphase and midzones to keep sister genomes apart and guide the cleavage furrow after anaphase. This temporal regulation is believed to involve Cdk1 kinase, which is inactivated in a switch-like way after anaphase. We found that inhibiting Plk1 caused premature assembly of midzones in cells still in metaphase, breaking the temporal regulation of microtubules. The antiparallel microtubule-bundling protein PRC1 plays a key role in organizing the midzone complex. We found that Plk1 negatively regulates PRC1 through phosphorylation of a single site, Thr-602, near the C-terminus of PRC1. We also found that microtubules stimulated Thr-602 phosphorylation by Plk1. This creates a potential negative feedback loop controlling PRC1 activity. It also made the extent of Thr-602 phosphorylation during mitotic arrest dependent on the mechanism of the arresting drug. Unexpectedly, we could not detect a preanaphase regulatory role for Cdk1 sites on PRC1. We suggest that PRC1 is regulated by Plk1, rather than Cdk1 as previously proposed, because its activity must be spatiotemporally regulated both preanaphase and postanaphase, and Cdk1 activity is too binary for this purpose.
Mitchison TJ. The proliferation rate paradox in antimitotic chemotherapy. Mol Biol Cell. 2012;23 (1) :1-6.Abstract
Cytotoxic cancer chemotherapy drugs are believed to gain selectivity by targeting cells that proliferate rapidly. However, the proliferation rate is low in many chemosensitive human cancers, and it is not clear how a drug that only kills dividing cells could promote tumor regression. Four potential solutions to this "proliferation rate paradox" are discussed for the microtubule-stabilizing drug paclitaxel: drug retention in tumors, killing of quiescent cells, targeting of noncancer cells in the tumor, and bystander effects. Testing these potential mechanisms of drug action will facilitate rational improvement of antimitotic chemotherapy and perhaps cytotoxic chemotherapy more generally.
Orth JD, Loewer A, Lahav G, Mitchison TJ. Prolonged mitotic arrest triggers partial activation of apoptosis, resulting in DNA damage and p53 induction. Mol Biol Cell. 2012;23 (4) :567-76.Abstract
Mitotic arrest induced by antimitotic drugs can cause apoptosis or p53-dependent cell cycle arrest. It can also cause DNA damage, but the relationship between these events has been unclear. Live, single-cell imaging in human cancer cells responding to an antimitotic kinesin-5 inhibitor and additional antimitotic drugs revealed strong induction of p53 after cells slipped from prolonged mitotic arrest into G1. We investigated the cause of this induction. We detected DNA damage late in mitotic arrest and also after slippage. This damage was inhibited by treatment with caspase inhibitors and by stable expression of mutant, noncleavable inhibitor of caspase-activated DNase, which prevents activation of the apoptosis-associated nuclease caspase-activated DNase (CAD). These treatments also inhibited induction of p53 after slippage from prolonged arrest. DNA damage was not due to full apoptosis, since most cytochrome C was still sequestered in mitochondria when damage occurred. We conclude that prolonged mitotic arrest partially activates the apoptotic pathway. This partly activates CAD, causing limited DNA damage and p53 induction after slippage. Increased DNA damage via caspases and CAD may be an important aspect of antimitotic drug action. More speculatively, partial activation of CAD may explain the DNA-damaging effects of diverse cellular stresses that do not immediately trigger apoptosis.
Dumont S, Salmon ED, Mitchison TJ. Deformations within moving kinetochores reveal different sites of active and passive force generation. Science. 2012;337 (6092) :355-8.Abstract
Kinetochores mediate chromosome segregation at mitosis. They are thought to contain both active, force-producing and passive, frictional interfaces with microtubules whose relative locations have been unclear. We inferred mechanical deformation within single kinetochores during metaphase oscillations by measuring average separations between fluorescently labeled kinetochore subunits in living cells undergoing mitosis. Inter-subunit distances were shorter in kinetochores moving toward poles than in those moving away. Inter-subunit separation decreased abruptly when kinetochores switched to poleward movement and decreased further when pulling force increased, suggesting that active force generation during poleward movement compresses kinetochores. The data revealed an active force-generating interface within kinetochores and a separate passive frictional interface located at least 20 nanometers away poleward. Together, these interfaces allow persistent attachment with intermittent active force generation.
Zhang X, Wang W, Bedigian AV, Coughlin ML, Mitchison TJ, Eggert US. Dopamine receptor D3 regulates endocytic sorting by a Prazosin-sensitive interaction with the coatomer COPI. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012;109 (31) :12485-90.Abstract
Macromolecules enter cells by endocytosis and are sorted to different cellular destinations in early/sorting endosomes. The mechanism and regulation of sorting are poorly understood, although transitions between vesicular and tubular endosomes are important. We found that the antihypertensive drug Prazosin inhibits endocytic sorting by an off-target perturbation of the G protein-coupled receptor dopamine receptor D(3) (DRD3). Prazosin is also a potent cytokinesis inhibitor, likely as a consequence of its effects on endosomes. Prazosin stabilizes a normally transient interaction between DRD3 and the coatomer COPI, a complex involved in membrane transport, and shifts endosomal morphology entirely to tubules, disrupting cargo sorting. RNAi depletion of DRD3 alone also inhibits endocytic sorting, indicating a noncanonical role for a G protein-coupled receptor. Prazosin is a powerful tool for rapid and reversible perturbation of endocytic dynamics.
Maiuri P, Terriac E, Paul-Gilloteaux P, Vignaud T, McNally K, Onuffer J, Thorn K, Nguyen PA, Georgoulia N, Soong D, et al. The first World Cell Race. Curr Biol. 2012;22 (17) :R673-5.
Vale RD, DeRisi J, Phillips R, Mullins DR, Waterman C, Mitchison TJ. Graduate education. Interdisciplinary graduate training in teaching labs. Science. 2012;338 (6114) :1542-3.
Tan ES, Krukenberg KA, Mitchison TJ. Large-scale preparation and characterization of poly(ADP-ribose) and defined length polymers. Anal Biochem. 2012;428 (2) :126-36.Abstract
Poly(ADP-ribose) (pADPr) is a large, structurally complex polymer of repeating ADP-ribose units. It is biosynthesized from NAD⁺ by poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARPs) and degraded to ADP-ribose by poly(ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase. pADPr is involved in many cellular processes and exerts biological function through covalent modification and noncovalent binding to specific proteins. Very little is known about molecular recognition and structure-activity relationships for noncovalent interaction between pADPr and its binding proteins, in part because of lack of access to the polymer on a large scale and to units of defined lengths. We prepared polydisperse pADPr from PARP1 and tankyrase 1 at the hundreds of milligram scale by optimizing enzymatic synthesis and scaling up chromatographic purification methods. We developed and calibrated an anion exchange chromatography method to assign pADPr size and scaled it up to purify defined length polymers on the milligram scale. Furthermore, we present a pADPr profiling method to characterize the polydispersity of pADPr produced by PARPs under different reaction conditions and find that substrate proteins affect the pADPr size distribution. These methods will facilitate structural and biochemical studies of pADPr and its binding proteins.
Nguyen PA, Ishihara K, Wühr M, Mitchison TJ. Pronuclear migration: no attachment? No union, but a futile cycle!. Curr Biol. 2012;22 (10) :R409-11.Abstract
How do pronuclei migrate towards each other? The zebrafish futile cycle gene is shown to encode a maternally expressed membrane protein required for nuclear attachment and migration along the sperm aster.
Kim S, Peshkin L, Mitchison TJ. Vascular disrupting agent drug classes differ in effects on the cytoskeleton. PLoS One. 2012;7 (7) :e40177.Abstract
Vascular disrupting agents (VDAs), anti-cancer drugs that target established tumor blood vessels, fall into two main classes: microtubule targeting drugs, exemplified by combretastatin A4 (CA4), and flavonoids, exemplified by 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (DMXAA). Both classes increase permeability of tumor vasculature in mouse models, and DMXAA in particular can cause massive tumor necrosis. The molecular target of CA4 is clearly microtubules. The molecular target(s) of DMXAA remains unclear. It is thought to promote inflammatory signaling in leukocytes, and has been assumed to not target microtubules, though it is not clear from the literature how carefully this assumption has been tested. An earlier flavone analog, flavone acetic acid, was reported to promote mitotic arrest suggesting flavones might possess anti-microtubule activity, and endothelial cells are sensitive to even mild disruption of microtubules. We carefully investigated whether DMXAA directly affects the microtubule or actin cytoskeletons of endothelial cells by comparing effects of CA4 and DMXAA on human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) using time-lapse imaging and assays for cytoskeleton integrity. CA4 caused retraction of the cell margin, mitotic arrest and microtubule depolymerization, while DMXAA, up to 500 µM, showed none of these effects. DMXAA also had no effect on pure tubulin nucleation and polymerization, unlike CA4. We conclude that DMXAA exhibits no direct anti-microtubule action and thus cleanly differs from CA4 in its mechanism of action at the molecular level.
2011
Brangwynne CP, Mitchison TJ, a Hyman A. Active liquid-like behavior of nucleoli determines their size and shape in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011;108 (11) :4334-9.Abstract
For most intracellular structures with larger than molecular dimensions, little is known about the connection between underlying molecular activities and higher order organization such as size and shape. Here, we show that both the size and shape of the amphibian oocyte nucleolus ultimately arise because nucleoli behave as liquid-like droplets of RNA and protein, exhibiting characteristic viscous fluid dynamics even on timescales of < 1 min. We use these dynamics to determine an apparent nucleolar viscosity, and we show that this viscosity is ATP-dependent, suggesting a role for active processes in fluidizing internal contents. Nucleolar surface tension and fluidity cause their restructuring into spherical droplets upon imposed mechanical deformations. Nucleoli exhibit a broad distribution of sizes with a characteristic power law, which we show is a consequence of spontaneous coalescence events. These results have implications for the function of nucleoli in ribosome subunit processing and provide a physical link between activity within a macromolecular assembly and its physical properties on larger length scales.
Shi J, Zhou Y, Huang H-C, Mitchison TJ. Navitoclax (ABT-263) accelerates apoptosis during drug-induced mitotic arrest by antagonizing Bcl-xL. Cancer Res. 2011;71 (13) :4518-26.Abstract
Combining microtubule-targeting antimitotic drugs with targeted apoptosis potentiators is a promising new chemotherapeutic strategy to treat cancer. In this study, we investigate the cellular mechanism by which navitoclax (previously called ABT-263), a Bcl-2 family inhibitor, potentiates apoptosis triggered by paclitaxel and an inhibitor of kinesin-5 (K5I, also called a KSP inhibitor), across a panel of epithelial cancer lines. By using time-lapse microscopy, we showed that navitoclax has little effect on cell death during interphase, but strongly accelerates apoptosis during mitotic arrest, and greatly increases the fraction of apoptosis-resistant cells that die. By systematically knocking down individual Bcl-2 proteins, we determined that Mcl-1 and Bcl-xL are the primary negative regulators of apoptosis during prolonged mitotic arrest. Mcl-1 levels decrease during mitotic arrest because of an imbalance between synthesis and turnover, and turnover depends in part on the MULE/HUWE1 E3 ligase. The combination of Mcl-1 loss with inhibition of Bcl-xL by navitoclax causes rapid apoptosis in all lines tested. Variation in expression levels of Mcl-1 and Bcl-xL largely determines variation in response to antimitotics alone, and antimitotics combined with navitoclax, across our panel. We concluded that Bcl-xL is a critical target of Bcl-2 family inhibitors for enhancing the lethality of antimitotic drugs in epithelial cancers, and combination treatment with navitoclax and a spindle specific antimitotic, such as a K5I, might be more effective than paclitaxel alone.
Field CM, Wühr M, Anderson GA, Kueh HY, Strickland D, Mitchison TJ. Actin behavior in bulk cytoplasm is cell cycle regulated in early vertebrate embryos. J Cell Sci. 2011;124 (Pt 12) :2086-95.Abstract
The mechanical properties of cells change as they proceed through the cell cycle, primarily owing to regulation of actin and myosin II. Most models for cell mechanics focus on actomyosin in the cortex and ignore possible roles in bulk cytoplasm. We explored cell cycle regulation of bulk cytoplasmic actomyosin in Xenopus egg extracts, which is almost undiluted cytoplasm from unfertilized eggs. We observed dramatic gelation-contraction of actomyosin in mitotic (M phase) extract where Cdk1 activity is high, but not in interphase (I-phase) extract. In spread droplets, M-phase extract exhibited regular, periodic pulses of gelation-contraction a few minutes apart that continued for many minutes. Comparing actin nucleation, disassembly and myosin II activity between M-phase and I-phase extracts, we conclude that regulation of nucleation is likely to be the most important for cell cycle regulation. We then imaged F-actin in early zebrafish blastomeres using a GFP-Utrophin probe. Polymerization in bulk cytoplasm around vesicles increased dramatically during mitosis, consistent with enhanced nucleation. We conclude that F-actin polymerization in bulk cytoplasm is cell cycle regulated in early vertebrate embryos and discuss possible biological functions of this regulation.
Orth JD, Kohler RH, Foijer F, Sorger PK, Weissleder R, Mitchison TJ. Analysis of mitosis and antimitotic drug responses in tumors by in vivo microscopy and single-cell pharmacodynamics. Cancer Res. 2011;71 (13) :4608-16.Abstract
Cancer relies upon frequent or abnormal cell division, but how the tumor microenvironment affects mitotic processes in vivo remains unclear, largely due to the technical challenges of optical access, spatial resolution, and motion. We developed high-resolution in vivo microscopy methods to visualize mitosis in a murine xenograft model of human cancer. Using these methods, we determined whether the single-cell response to the antimitotic drug paclitaxel (Ptx) was the same in tumors as in cell culture, observed the impact of Ptx on the tumor response as a whole, and evaluated the single-cell pharmacodynamics (PD) of Ptx (by in vivo PD microscopy). Mitotic initiation was generally less frequent in tumors than in cell culture, but subsequently it proceeded normally. Ptx treatment caused spindle assembly defects and mitotic arrest, followed by slippage from mitotic arrest, multinucleation, and apoptosis. Compared with cell culture, the peak mitotic index in tumors exposed to Ptx was lower and the tumor cells survived longer after mitotic arrest, becoming multinucleated rather than dying directly from mitotic arrest. Thus, the tumor microenvironment was much less proapoptotic than cell culture. The morphologies associated with mitotic arrest were dose and time dependent, thereby providing a semiquantitative, single-cell measure of PD. Although many tumor cells did not progress through Ptx-induced mitotic arrest, tumor significantly regressed in the model. Our findings show that in vivo microscopy offers a useful tool to visualize mitosis during tumor progression, drug responses, and cell fate at the single-cell level.
Hu C-K, Coughlin M, Field CM, Mitchison TJ. KIF4 regulates midzone length during cytokinesis. Curr Biol. 2011;21 (10) :815-24.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Midzones, also called central spindles, are an array of antiparallel microtubules that form during cytokinesis between the separated chromosomes. Midzones can be considered to be platforms that recruit specific proteins and orchestrate cytokinetic events, such as sister nuclei being kept apart, furrow ingression, and abscission. Despite this important role, many aspects of midzone biology remain unknown, including the dynamic organization of midzone microtubules. Investigating midzone microtubule dynamics has been difficult in part because their plus ends are interdigitated and buried in a dense matrix, making them difficult to observe. RESULT: We employed monopolar cytokinesis to reveal that midzone plus ends appear to be nondynamic. We identified the chromokinesin KIF4 as a negative regulator of midzone plus-end dynamics whose activity controls midzone length but not stability. KIF4 is required to terminate midzone elongation in late anaphase. In the absence of KIF4, midzones elongate abnormally, and their overlap regions are unfocused. Electron-dense material and midbodies are both absent from the elongated midzones, and actin filaments from the furrow cortex are not disassembled after ingression. CONCLUSION: KIF4-mediated midzone length regulation appears to occur by terminating midzone elongation at a specific time during cytokinesis, making midzones and mitotic spindles differ in their dynamics and length-regulating mechanisms.
Wühr M, Obholzer ND, Megason SG, Detrich HW, Mitchison TJ. Live imaging of the cytoskeleton in early cleavage-stage zebrafish embryos. Methods Cell Biol. 2011;101 :1-18.Abstract
The large and transparent cells of cleavage-stage zebrafish embryos provide unique opportunities to study cell division and cytoskeletal dynamics in very large animal cells. Here, we summarize recent progress, from our laboratories and others, on live imaging of the microtubule and actin cytoskeletons during zebrafish embryonic cleavage. First, we present simple protocols for extending the breeding competence of zebrafish mating ensembles throughout the day, which ensures a steady supply of embryos in early cleavage, and for mounting these embryos for imaging. Second, we describe a transgenic zebrafish line [Tg(bactin2:HsENSCONSIN17-282-3xEGFP)hm1] that expresses the green fluorescent protein (GFP)-labeled microtubule-binding part of ensconsin (EMTB-3GFP). We demonstrate that the microtubule-based structures of the early cell cycles can be imaged live, with single microtubule resolution and with high contrast, in this line. Microtubules are much more easily visualized using this tagged binding protein rather than directly labeled tubulin (injected Alexa-647-labeled tubulin), presumably due to lower background from probe molecules not attached to microtubules. Third, we illustrate live imaging of the actin cytoskeleton by injection of the actin-binding fragment of utrophin fused to GFP. Fourth, we compare epifluorescence-, spinning-disc-, laser-scanning-, and two-photon-microscopic modalities for live imaging of the microtubule cytoskeleton in early embryos of our EMTB-3GFP-expressing transgenic line. Finally, we discuss future applications and extensions of our methods.
Groen AC, Coughlin M, Mitchison TJ. Microtubule assembly in meiotic extract requires glycogen. Mol Biol Cell. 2011;22 (17) :3139-51.Abstract
The assembly of microtubules during mitosis requires many identified components, such as γ-tubulin ring complex (γ-TuRC), components of the Ran pathway (e.g., TPX2, HuRP, and Rae1), and XMAP215/chTOG. However, it is far from clear how these factors function together or whether more factors exist. In this study, we used biochemistry to attempt to identify active microtubule nucleation protein complexes from Xenopus meiotic egg extracts. Unexpectedly, we found both microtubule assembly and bipolar spindle assembly required glycogen, which acted both as a crowding agent and as metabolic source glucose. By also reconstituting microtubule assembly in clarified extracts, we showed microtubule assembly does not require ribosomes, mitochondria, or membranes. Our clarified extracts will provide a powerful tool for activity-based biochemical fractionations for microtubule assembly.
Tang Y, Orth JD, Xie T, Mitchison TJ. Rapid induction of apoptosis during Kinesin-5 inhibitor-induced mitotic arrest in HL60 cells. Cancer Lett. 2011;310 (1) :15-24.Abstract
Small molecule inhibitors of Kinesin-5 (K5Is) that arrest cells in mitosis with monopolar spindles are promising anti-cancer drug candidates. Clinical trials of K5Is revealed dose-limiting neutropenia, or loss of neutrophils, for which the molecular mechanism is unclear. We investigated the effects of a K5I on HL60 cells, a human promyelocytic leukemia cell line that is often used to model dividing neutrophil progenitors in cell culture. We found K5I treatment caused unusually rapid death of HL60 cells exclusively during mitotic arrest. This mitotic death occurred via the intrinsic apoptosis pathway with molecular events that include cytochrome c leakage into the cytoplasm, caspase activation, and Parp1 cleavage. Bcl-2 overexpression protected from death. We probed mitochondrial physiology to find candidate triggers of cytochrome c release, and observed a decrease of membrane potential (ΔΨm) before mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP). Interestingly, this loss of ΔΨm was not blocked by overexpressing Bcl-2, suggesting it might be a cause of Bax/Bak activation, not a consequence. Taken together, these results show that K5I induces intrinsic apoptosis during mitotic arrest in HL60 with loss of ΔΨm as an upstream event of MOMP.
2010
Ozlü N, Monigatti F, Renard BY, Field CM, Steen H, Mitchison TJ, Steen JJ. Binding partner switching on microtubules and aurora-B in the mitosis to cytokinesis transition. Mol Cell Proteomics. 2010;9 (2) :336-50.Abstract
The cytoskeleton globally reorganizes between mitosis (M phase) and cytokinesis (C phase), which presumably requires extensive regulatory changes. To reveal these changes, we undertook a comparative proteomics analysis of cells tightly drug-synchronized in each phase. We identified 25 proteins that bind selectively to microtubules in C phase and identified several novel binding partners including nucleolar and spindle-associated protein. C phase-selective microtubule binding of many of these proteins depended on activity of Aurora kinases as assayed by treatment with the drug VX680. Aurora-B binding partners switched dramatically between M phase to C phase, and we identified several novel C phase-selective Aurora-B binding partners including PRC1, KIF4, and anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome. Our approach can be extended to other cellular compartments and cell states, and our data provide the first broad biochemical framework for understanding C phase. Concretely, we report a central role for Aurora-B in regulating the C phase cytoskeleton.
Mitchison TJ, Mitchison HM. Cell biology: How cilia beat. Nature. 2010;463 (7279) :308-9.

Pages