The farnesyltransferase inhibitor, FTI-2153, inhibits bipolar spindle formation during mitosis independently of transformation and Ras and p53 mutation status

Cell Death Differ. 2002 Jul;9(7):702-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.cdd.4401023.


Recently, we have shown that the farnesyltransferase inhibitor FTI-2153 induces accumulation of two human lung cancer cell lines in mitosis by inhibiting bipolar spindle formation during prometaphase. Here we investigate whether this mitotic arrest depends on transformation, Ras and/or p53 mutation status. Using DAPI staining (DNA) and immunocytochemistry (microtubules), we demonstrate that in normal primary foreskin fibroblasts (HFF), as well as in several cancer cell lines of different origins including human ovarian (OVCAR3), lung (A-549 and Calu-1) and fibrosarcoma (HT1080), FTI-2153 inhibits bipolar spindle formation and induces a rosette morphology with a monopolar spindle surrounded by chromosomes. In both malignant cancer cell lines and normal primary fibroblasts, the percentage of prometaphase cells with bipolar spindles decreases from 67-92% in control cells to 2-28% in FTI-2153 treated cells. This inhibition of bipolar spindle formation correlates with an accumulation of cells in prometaphase. The ability of FTI-2153 to inhibit bipolar spindle formation is not dependent on p53 mutation status since both wild-type (HFF, HT1080 and A-549) and mutant (Calu-1 and OVCAR3) p53 cells were equally affected. Similarly, both wild-type (HFF and OVCAR3) and mutant (HT1080, Calu-1 and A-549) Ras cells accumulate monopolar spindles following treatment with FTI-2153. However, two cell lines, NIH3T3 (WT Ras and WT p53) and the human bladder cancer cell line, T-24 (mutant H-Ras and mutant p53) are highly resistant to FTI-2153 inhibition of bipolar spindle formation. Finally, the ability of FTI-2153 to inhibit tumor cell proliferation does not correlate with inhibition of bipolar spindle formation. Taken together these results demonstrate that the ability of FTI-2153 to inhibit bipolar spindle formation and accumulate cells in mitosis is not dependent on transformation, Ras or p53 mutation status. Furthermore, in some cell lines, FTIs inhibit growth by mechanisms other than interfering with the prophase/metaphase traverse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Animals
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Farnesyltranstransferase
  • Humans
  • Metaphase
  • Mice
  • Mitosis / drug effects*
  • Mitosis / physiology
  • Mutagenesis
  • Spindle Apparatus / drug effects*
  • Spindle Apparatus / physiology
  • Transformation, Genetic
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*
  • ras Proteins / genetics
  • ras Proteins / metabolism*


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Alkyl and Aryl Transferases
  • Farnesyltranstransferase
  • ras Proteins