MCAK and paclitaxel have differential effects on spindle microtubule organization and dynamics

Mol Biol Cell. 2009 Mar;20(6):1639-51. doi: 10.1091/mbc.e08-09-0985. Epub 2009 Jan 21.


Within the mitotic spindle, there are multiple populations of microtubules with different turnover dynamics, but how these different dynamics are maintained is not fully understood. MCAK is a member of the kinesin-13 family of microtubule-destabilizing enzymes that is required for proper establishment and maintenance of the spindle. Using quantitative immunofluorescence and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, we compared the differences in spindle organization caused by global suppression of microtubule dynamics, by treating cells with low levels of paclitaxel, versus specific perturbation of spindle microtubule subsets by MCAK inhibition. Paclitaxel treatment caused a disruption in spindle microtubule organization marked by a significant increase in microtubules near the poles and a reduction in K-fiber fluorescence intensity. This was correlated with a faster t(1/2) of both spindle and K-fiber microtubules. In contrast, MCAK inhibition caused a dramatic reorganization of spindle microtubules with a significant increase in astral microtubules and reduction in K-fiber fluorescence intensity, which correlated with a slower t(1/2) of K-fibers but no change in the t(1/2) of spindle microtubules. Our data support the model that MCAK perturbs spindle organization by acting preferentially on a subset of microtubules, and they support the overall hypothesis that microtubule dynamics is differentially regulated in the spindle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Kinesin / classification
  • Kinesin / metabolism*
  • Microtubules / drug effects*
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Paclitaxel / pharmacology*
  • RNA Interference
  • Spindle Apparatus / drug effects*
  • Spindle Apparatus / metabolism*


  • Kinesin
  • Paclitaxel