Pharmacologic abrogation of the mitotic spindle checkpoint by an indolocarbazole discovered by cellular screening efficiently kills cancer cells

Ailine Stolz, Celia Vogel, Verena Schneider, Norman Ertych, Anne Kienitz, Hongtao Yu, Holger Bastians

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


The mitotic spindle checkpoint represents a signal transduction pathway that prevents the onset of anaphase until all chromosomes are properly aligned on a metaphase plate. Partial inactivation of this checkpoint allows premature separation of sister chromatids and results in aneuploidy, which might contribute to tumorigenesis. Unlike other cell cycle checkpoints, the spindle checkpoint is essential for cell viability, giving rise to the idea that the spindle checkpoint itself might represent a valuable target for anticancer therapy. We used a cell-based screen and identified the indolocarbazole compound Gö6976 as a pharmacologic inhibitor of the spindle checkpoint. Gö6976 potently overrides a spindle checkpoint- mediated mitotic arrest by abrogating the phosphorylation and kinetochore localization of several spindle checkpoint proteins. We identified the Aurora-A and Aurora-B kinases, which have been previously implicated in proper mitotic progression and spindle checkpoint function, as targets for Gö6976. Accordingly, Gö6976 treatment causes severe mitotic abnormalities and chromosome alignment defects, which are not properly detected by the drug-inactivated spindle checkpoint. This results in an aberrant progression of mitosis, leading to apoptosis in various human cancer cell lines, including spindle checkpoint-compromised cancer cells. Thus, our work describes a novel and promising strategy for anticancer treatment that targets the mitotic spindle checkpoint.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3874-3883
Number of pages10
JournalCancer research
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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