Many human cancer cells contain more than two centrosomes, yet these cancer cells can form pseudo-bipolar spindles through the mechanism, called centrosome clustering, and survive, instead of committing lethal multipolar mitoses. Kinesin-14/HSET, a minus end-directed motor, plays a crucial role in centrosome clustering. Accordingly, HSET is deemed to be a promising chemotherapeutic target to selectively kill cancer cells. Recently, three HSET inhibitors (AZ82, CW069 and SR31527) have been reported, but their specificity and efficacy have not been evaluated rigorously. This downside partly stems from the lack of robust systems for the assessment of these drugs. Yeasts and filamentous fungi provide not only powerful models for basic and applied biology but also versatile tools for drug discovery and evaluation. Here we show that these three inhibitors on their own are cytotoxic to fission yeast, suggesting that they have off-targets in vivo except for kinesin-14. Nonetheless, intriguingly, AZ82 can neutralize otherwise toxic overproduced HSET; this includes a substantial reduction in the percentage of HSET-driven abnormal mitotic cells and partial suppression of its lethality. SR31527 also displays modest neutralizing activity, while we do not detect such activity in CW069. As an experimental proof-of-principle study, we have treated HSET-overproducing fission yeast cells with extracts prepared from various plant species and found activities that rescue HSET-driven lethality in those from Chamaecyparis pisifera and Toxicodendron trichocarpum. This methodology of protein overproduction in fission yeast, therefore, provides a convenient, functional assay system by which to screen for not only selective human kinesin-14 inhibitors but also those against other molecules of interest.
ASJC Scopus subject areas