This study examined the molecular mechanism of action of anti-mitotic drugs. The hypothesis was tested that death in mitosis occurs through sustained mitotic arrest with robust Cdk1 signaling causing complete phosphorylation of Mcl-1 and Bcl-xL, and conversely, that mitotic slippage is associated with incomplete phosphorylation of Mcl-1/Bcl-xL. The results, obtained from studying six different cancer cell lines, strongly support the hypothesis and identify for the first time a unique molecular signature for mitotic death. The findings represent an important advance in understanding anti-mitotic drug action and provide insight into cancer cell susceptibility to such drugs which has important clinical implications.
Keywords: Apoptosis; Bcl-2 proteins; Cancer cell lines; Mitotic arrest; Mitotic death; Phosphorylation.
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