Mechanism of colchicine binding to tubulin. Tolerance of substituents in ring C' of biphenyl analogues

Biochemistry. 1991 Apr 16;30(15):3777-86. doi: 10.1021/bi00229a027.


The limits of structural variation of the substituent in position 4' of ring C' of biphenyl colchicine analogues (ring C in colchicine) were probed by the synthesis of a number of analogues and the examination of their binding to tubulin and its consequences. Binding was found to require the location in three-dimensional space of the oxygen in the 4'-substituent at a locus not far distant from those of the colchicine ring C oxygens. All those analogues that bind to the colchicine site of tubulin induced the GTPase activity and inhibited microtubule assembly, those containing a carbonyl group substoichiometrically and the others stoichiometrically. A similar relation was found for the induction of the abnormal polymerization of the colchicine analogue-tubulin complex, with methoxy-containing compounds requiring a higher temperature to induce the polymerization. A concerted analysis of the binding thermodynamics of colchicine and its various analogues has shown full consistency with the previously proposed two-step binding pathway that involves two nonidentical binding moieties in the ligand [Andreu, J. M., & Timasheff, S. N. (1982) Biochemistry 21, 534-543]. Comparison of the binding parameters of colchicine, its des(ring B) analogue (MTC), and ring A and C compounds individually with the thermodynamic parameters deduced for the first steps of the bindings of colchicine and MTC [Engelborghs, Y., & Fitzgerald, T. J. (1987) J. Biol. Chem. 262, 5204-5209] have led to the conclusion that binding can occur by two pathways leading to the identical product. In the first pathway, ring A binds first; this is followed by a rate-determining thermodynamically indifferent reaction (protein conformation change), and finally a rapid binding of ring C. In the second pathway, the events are the same except that the order of binding of the rings is reversed. Colchicine, due to the steric hindrance of ring B, can follow only the second pathway. For MTC, both kinetic pathways are open and binding may be initiated by random first contact of either ring A or ring C.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Biphenyl Compounds / chemical synthesis
  • Biphenyl Compounds / chemistry
  • Biphenyl Compounds / metabolism*
  • Colchicine / chemical synthesis
  • Colchicine / chemistry
  • Colchicine / metabolism*
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / metabolism
  • Hydrolysis
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kinetics
  • Ligands
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Conformation
  • Thermodynamics
  • Tropolone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Tropolone / chemistry
  • Tropolone / metabolism
  • Tubulin / metabolism*


  • Biphenyl Compounds
  • Ligands
  • Tubulin
  • 2-methoxytropolone
  • Tropolone
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • Colchicine