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Key Event Title
|Level of Biological Organization|
Key Event Components
Key Event Overview
AOPs Including This Key Event
|AOP Name||Role of event in AOP||Point of Contact||Author Status||OECD Status|
|Tubulin binding and aneuploidy||MolecularInitiatingEvent||Francesco Marchetti (send email)||Open for citation & comment||EAGMST Under Review|
|All life stages||High|
Key Event Description
The site of action is the tubulin in the cytoplasm. Tubulins represent a large superfamily, and several isotypes are described for both α and β tubulin in mammalian cells [Luduena, 2013]. At least six different isotypes of the α subunit are known, while eight isotypes are known for the β subunit. These subunits share a high degree of homology (90% similarity). In addition to α- and β-tubulin, other tubulin homologues have been identified (γ, δ and ε), but their roles in the life cycle of the cell are uncertain [Bhattacharya and Cabral, 2009]. All available isotypes are incorporated within microtubules, although with different tissue distributions in normal cells [Berrieman et al., 2004]. The currently known microtubule-disrupting agents bind to all isotypes, having only a slight preference for one over another [Miller et al., 2010].
Binding sites on the α/β-tubulin heterodimer: Conventionally, microtubule-interfering agents are categorized into two main groups: (1) microtubule destabilizers, including colchicine and a variety of vinca alkaloids; and (2) microtubule stabilizers, including taxanes and epothilones. Most agents interact with known binding pockets of α/β-tubulin; however, there are compounds that bind to tubulin on undefined sites. Three distinct sites are well characterized in the literature [Marchetti et al., 2016; Botta et al., 2009]: (1) the colchicine-binding domain at the interface between the α- and β-tubulin dimers; (2) the vinca domain surrounding the GTP binding site on β- and α-tubulin; and, (3) the taxane domain located on β-tubulin [Botta et al., 2009].
Colchicine binding domain on tubulin: The colchicine binding domain is a deep pocket located at the α/β interface of tubulin heterodimers. Crystal structures for tubulin and different ligands are available, although their resolution is not high [Lu et al., 2012; Massarotti et al., 2012]. Notwithstanding its deep location, significant conformational changes in the protein are necessary for accommodating the inhibitors. Both the A and C rings of colchicine are necessary for high affinity binding, while the B ring may only function as a linker between the other two. Three methoxy residues are present in the A ring and all of them are involved in the high affinity binding to tubulin. The C ring of colchicine interacts through van der Waals contacts with Valα181, Serα178, and Valβ315. The carbonyl group behaves as a hydrogen bond acceptor, interacting with Val181a. The A ring is buried in a hydrophobic pocket delimited by Lysβ352, Asnβ350, Leuβ378, Alaβ316, Leuβ255, Lysβ254, Alaβ250, and Leuβ242, and the methoxy group at position 3 is involved in a hydrogen bond interaction within the thiol group of Cysβ241 [Marchetti et al., 2016]. Different ligands may compete with colchicine for the same binding site, even in the absence of high structural correspondence [Lu et al., 2012].
There is no OECD guideline for measuring chemical binding to tubulin, however, binding of colchicine to tubulin is one of the most studied chemical interactions with biological materials and methodology for its measurement is well established and standardized [Hamel and Lin, 1981; Verdier-Pinard et al., 1998].
How It Is Measured or Detected
Binding properties to tubulin are generally evaluated in vitro, typically on tubulin extracts derived from brain tissues [Miller and Wilson 2010]. To determine whether a compound can bind to tubulin, a competitive [3H]colchicine tubulin-binding assay is conducted in vitro to measure whether the binding of colchicine is inhibited by the presence of the test agent [Verdier-Pinard et al. 1998]. A reaction mixture containing tubulin, [3H]colchicine and a potential inhibitor is incubated and after the addition of the scintillation fluid, the radioactivity of [3H]colchicine-bound tubulin is measured using a scintillation counter. The reduction of [3H]colchicine-bound tubulin value is inversely proportional to the test agent binding affinity [Hamel and Lin 1981]. A reaction mixture with only tubulin and [3H]colchicine is generally used as an experimental control standard. The inhibition constant (Ki) of colchicine is 5.75 μM [Zavala et al. 1980] and the ability of new chemicals to interfere with colchicine binding to tubulin is benchmarked against this value.
Domain of Applicability
Chemical binding to tubulin has been measured in somatic and germ cells in a variety of species, from rodents in vivo to human cells in culture. Theoretically, chemical binding to tubulin can occur in any cell type in any organism.
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