MCAK and paclitaxel have differential effects on spindle microtubule organization and dynamics

Rania S. Rizk, Kevin P. Bohannon, Laura A. Wetzel, James Powers, Sidney L. Shaw, Claire E. Walczak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Scopus citations


Within the mitotic spindle, there are multiple populations of microtubules with different turnover dynamics, but how these different dynamics are maintained is not fully understood. MCAK is a member of the kinesin-13 family of microtubule-destabilizing enzymes that is required for proper establishment and maintenance of the spindle. Using quantitative immunofluorescence and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching, we compared the differences in spindle organization caused by global suppression of microtubule dynamics, by treating cells with low levels of paclitaxel, versus specific perturbation of spindle microtubule subsets by MCAK inhibition. Paclitaxel treatment caused a disruption in spindle microtubule organization marked by a significant increase in microtubules near the poles and a reduction in K-fiber fluorescence intensity. This was correlated with a faster t 1/2 of both spindle and K-fiber microtubules. In contrast, MCAK inhibition caused a dramatic reorganization of spindle microtubules with a significant increase in astral microtubules and reduction in K-fiber fluorescence intensity, which correlated with a slower t 1/2 of K-fibers but no change in the t 1/2 of spindle microtubules. Our data support the model that MCAK perturbs spindle organization by acting preferentially on a subset of microtubules, and they support the overall hypothesis that microtubule dynamics is differentially regulated in the spindle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1639-1651
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Biology of the Cell
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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