, 12:155 | Cite as

Combretastatin CA-4 and combretastatin derivative induce mitotic catastrophe dependent on spindle checkpoint and caspase-3 activation in non-small cell lung cancer cells

  • Ilio Vitale
  • Antonio Antoccia
  • Chiara Cenciarelli
  • Pasqualina Crateri
  • Stefania Meschini
  • Giuseppe Arancia
  • Claudio Pisano
  • Caterina TanzarellaEmail author


Combretastatin A-4 (CA-4), a natural stilbenoid isolated from Combretum caffrum, is a new vascular targeting agent (VTA) known for its antitumor activity due to its anti-tubulin properties. We investigated the molecular mechanisms leading to cell death in non-small cell lung cancer H460 cells induced by natural (CA-4) and synthetic stilbenoids (ST2151) structurally related to CA-4. We found that both compounds induced depolymerization and rearrangement of spindle microtubules, as well as an increasingly aberrant organization of metaphase chromosomes in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Prolonged exposition to ST2151 led cells to organize multiple sites of tubulin repolymerization, whereas tubulin repolymerization was observed only after CA-4 washout. H460 cells were arrested at a pro-metaphase stage, with condensed chromosomes and a triggered spindle assembly checkpoint, as evaluated by kinetochore localization of Bub1 and Mad1 antibodies. Persistent checkpoint activation led to mitochondrial membrane permeabilization (MMP) alterations, cytochrome c release, activation of caspase-9 and -3, PARP cleavage and DNA fragmentation. On the other hand, caspase-2, and -8 were not activated by the drug treatment. The ability of cells to reassemble tubulin in the presence of an activated checkpoint may be responsible for ST2151-induced multinucleation, a recognized sign of mitotic catastrophe. In conclusion, we believe that discovery of new agents able to trigger mitotic catastrophe cell death as a result of mitotic block and prolonged spindle checkpoint activation is particularly worthwhile, considering that tumor cells have a high proliferative rate and mitotic failure occurs irrespective of p53 status.


CA-4 ST2151 Spindle assembly checkpoint Mitotic catastrophe Caspase-3 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ilio Vitale
    • 1
  • Antonio Antoccia
    • 1
  • Chiara Cenciarelli
    • 1
  • Pasqualina Crateri
    • 2
  • Stefania Meschini
    • 2
  • Giuseppe Arancia
    • 2
  • Claudio Pisano
    • 3
  • Caterina Tanzarella
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity “Roma Tre”RomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Technology and HealthIstituto Superiore di SanitàRomeItaly
  3. 3.SIGMA-TAU Industrie Farmaceutiche Riunite S.p.A.PomeziaItaly

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