HMBA depolymerizes microtubules, activates mitotic checkpoints and induces mitotic block in MCF-7 cells by binding at the colchicine site in tubulin

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Graphical abstract10-[(3-Hydroxy-4-methoxybenzylidene)]-9(10H)-anthracenone (HMBA), a synthetic compound, has been reported to have a potent antitumor activity. In this study, we found that HMBA depolymerized microtubules in MCF-7 cells and produced aberrant spindles in the MCF-7 cells. It also reduced the distance between the centrosomes and activated the mitotic checkpoint proteins BubR1 and Mad2. Further, HMBA inhibited the progression of MCF-7 cells in mitosis and induced apoptotic cell death involving p53 pathway. In vitro, HMBA bound to purified brain tubulin with a dissociation constant of 4.1 ± 0.9 μM. It inhibited microtubule assembly and increased the GTP hydrolysis rate of microtubule assembly. The compound did not alter the binding of 2′(or 3′)-O-(trinitrophenyl) guanosine 5′-triphosphate (TNP-GTP), a fluorescent analogue of GTP, to tubulin suggesting that it did not inhibit the binding of GTP to tubulin. However, we obtained evidence indicating that HMBA perturbed the conformation of the GTP binding site in tubulin. In addition, an analysis of the modified Dixon plot suggested that HMBA competitively inhibited the binding of colchicine to tubulin. A computational analysis of the binding of HMBA to tubulin supported the finding that HMBA shared its binding site with colchicine in tubulin and indicated that the binding of HMBA to tubulin was primarily stabilized through hydrogen bonding.

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