Drp1 modulates mitochondrial stress responses to mitotic arrest

Cell Death Differ. 2020 Sep;27(9):2620-2634. doi: 10.1038/s41418-020-0527-y. Epub 2020 Mar 19.


Antimitotic drugs are extensively used in the clinics to treat different types of cancer. They can retain cells in a prolonged mitotic arrest imposing two major fates, mitotic slippage, or mitotic cell death. While the former is molecularly well characterized, the mechanisms that control mitotic cell death remain poorly understood. Here, we performed quantitative proteomics of HeLa cells under mitotic arrest induced with paclitaxel, a microtubule-stabilizer drug, to identify regulators of such cell fate decision. We identified alterations in several apoptosis-related proteins, among which the mitochondrial fission protein Drp1 presented increased levels. We found that Drp1 depletion during prolonged mitotic arrest led to strong mitochondrial depolarization and faster mitotic cell death as well as enhanced mitophagy, a mechanism to remove damaged mitochondria. Our findings support a new role of Drp1 in orchestrating the cellular stress responses during mitosis, where mitochondrial function and distribution into the daughter cells need to be coordinated with cell fate. This novel function of Drp1 in the cell cycle becomes best visible under conditions of prolonged mitotic arrest.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints* / drug effects
  • Dynamins / metabolism*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial / drug effects
  • Microtubules / drug effects
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitosis* / drug effects
  • Paclitaxel / pharmacology
  • Stress, Physiological* / drug effects


  • DNM1L protein, human
  • Dynamins
  • Paclitaxel