Using Budding Yeast to Identify Molecules That Block Cancer Cell 'Mitotic Slippage' Only in the Presence of Mitotic Poisons

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jul 26;22(15):7985. doi: 10.3390/ijms22157985.


Research on the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has yielded fundamental discoveries on highly conserved biological pathways and yeast remains the best-studied eukaryotic cell in the world. Studies on the mitotic cell cycle and the discovery of cell cycle checkpoints in budding yeast has led to a detailed, although incomplete, understanding of eukaryotic cell cycle progression. In multicellular eukaryotic organisms, uncontrolled aberrant cell division is the defining feature of cancer. Some of the most successful classes of anti-cancer chemotherapeutic agents are mitotic poisons. Mitotic poisons are thought to function by inducing a mitotic spindle checkpoint-dependent cell cycle arrest, via the assembly of the highly conserved mitotic checkpoint complex (MCC), leading to apoptosis. Even in the presence of mitotic poisons, some cancer cells continue cell division via 'mitotic slippage', which may correlate with a cancer becoming refractory to mitotic poison chemotherapeutic treatments. In this review, knowledge about budding yeast cell cycle control is explored to suggest novel potential drug targets, namely, specific regions in the highly conserved anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C) subunits Apc1 and/or Apc5, and in a specific N-terminal region in the APC/C co-factor cell division cycle 20 (Cdc20), which may yield molecules which block 'mitotic slippage' only in the presence of mitotic poisons.

Keywords: Saccharomyces cerevisiae; anaphase-promoting complex/cyclosome (APC/C); budding yeast; cancer; cell cycle; cell division cycle 20 (Cdc20); mitosis; mitotic checkpoint complex (MCC); spindle assembly checkpoint.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis* / drug effects
  • Apoptosis* / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints* / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints* / genetics
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Humans
  • Mitosis* / drug effects
  • Mitosis* / genetics
  • Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Poisons / chemistry
  • Poisons / pharmacology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae* / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae* / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Poisons