Screening of small molecule libraries offers the potential to identify compounds that inhibit specific biological processes and, ultimately, to identify macromolecules that are important players in such processes. To date, however, most screens of small molecule libraries have focused on identification of compounds that inhibit known proteins or particular steps in a given process, and have emphasized automated primary screens. Here we have used "low tech" in vivo primary screens to identify small molecules that inhibit both cytokinesis and single cell wound repair, two complex cellular processes that possess many common features. The "diversity set", an ordered array of 1990 compounds available from the National Cancer Institute, was screened in parallel to identify compounds that inhibit cytokinesis in Dendraster excentricus (sand dollar) embryos and single cell wound repair in Xenopus laevis (frog) oocytes. Two small molecules were thus identified: Sph1 and Sph2. Sph1 reduces Rho activation in wound repair and suppresses formation of the spindle midzone during cytokinesis. Sph2 also reduces Rho activation in wound repair and may inhibit cytokinesis by blocking membrane fusion. The results identify two small molecules of interest for analysis of wound repair and cytokinesis, reveal that these processes are more similar than often realized and reveal the potential power of low tech screens of small molecule libraries for analysis of complex cellular processe.
Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.