Resistance to anti-microtubule drug-induced cell death is determined by regulation of BimEL expression

Oncogene. 2019 May;38(22):4352-4365. doi: 10.1038/s41388-019-0727-4. Epub 2019 Feb 15.


Anti-microtubule agents are frequently used as anticancer therapeutics. Cell death induced by these agents is considered to be due to sustained mitotic arrest caused by the activation of spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC). However, some cell types are resistant to mitotic cell death. Cells' ability to escape mitotic arrest (mitotic slippage) is thought to be a major mechanism contributing to this resistance. Here, we show that resistance to cell death induced by anti-mitotic agents is not linked to cells' capacity to undergo mitotic slippage as generally believed but is dependent on the state of BimEL regulation during mitosis. While transcriptional repression of BimEL in the mitotic death-resistant cells involves polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2)-mediated histone trimethylation, the BimEL protein is destabilized by cullin 1/4A-βTrCP-dependent degradation involving activation of cullin 1/4A by neddylation. These results imply that pharmacological augmentation of BimEL activity in anti-microtubule drug-resistant tumors may have important therapeutic implications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • A549 Cells
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Bcl-2-Like Protein 11 / genetics*
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Death / drug effects
  • Cell Death / genetics*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drug Resistance / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance / genetics*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • HeLa Cells
  • Histones / genetics
  • Humans
  • M Phase Cell Cycle Checkpoints / genetics
  • Methylation / drug effects
  • Microtubules / drug effects
  • Microtubules / genetics*
  • Mitosis / drug effects
  • Mitosis / genetics
  • Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 / genetics
  • Spindle Apparatus / drug effects
  • Spindle Apparatus / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • BCL2L11 protein, human
  • Bcl-2-Like Protein 11
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Histones
  • Polycomb Repressive Complex 2