Tumor formation via loss of a molecular motor protein

Curr Biol. 2006 Aug 8;16(15):1559-64. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2006.06.029.


Aneuploidy has long been suggested to be causal in tumor formation. Direct testing of this hypothesis has been difficult because of the absence of methods to specifically induce aneuploidy. The chromosome-associated kinesin motor KIF4 plays multiple roles in mitosis, and its loss leads to multiple mitotic defects including aneuploidy. Here, we have taken advantage of the direct formation of aneuploidy in the absence of KIF4 to determine whether loss of a molecular motor and generation of aneuploidy during mitosis can trigger tumorigenesis. We find that embryonic stem cells genetically depleted of KIF4 support anchorage-independent growth and form tumors in nude mice. In cells lacking KIF4, mitotic spindle checkpoints and DNA-damage response pathways are activated. Down regulation or loss of KIF4 is physiologically relevant because reduced KIF4 levels are present in 35% of human cancers from several tissues. Our results support the notion that loss of a molecular motor leads to tumor formation and that aneuploidy can act as a primary trigger of tumorigenesis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Aneuploidy*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • DNA Damage / genetics
  • DNA Damage / physiology
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Genes, cdc / physiology
  • Humans
  • Kinesin / deficiency*
  • Kinesin / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / deficiency*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Stem Cells / cytology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Kif4 protein, mouse
  • Kinesin