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Pharmaceutical-grade Rigosertib is a Microtubule-destabilizing Agent

By Marco Jost, Yuwen Chen, Luke A Gilbert, Max A. Horlbeck, Lenno Krenning, Grégory Menchon, Ankit Rai, Min Y Cho, Jacob J Stern, Andrea E Prota, Martin Kampmann, Anna Akhmanova, Michel O. Steinmetz, Marvin E. Tanenbaum, Jonathan S. Weissman

Posted 29 Jan 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.01.28.923235 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2020.06.008)

We recently used CRISPRi/a-based chemical-genetic screens and targeted cell biological, biochemical, and structural assays to determine that rigosertib, an anti-cancer agent in phase III clinical trials, kills cancer cells by destabilizing microtubules. In a recent manuscript, Reddy and co-workers suggest that this microtubule-destabilizing activity of rigosertib is mediated not by rigosertib itself but by a contaminating degradation product of rigosertib, ON01500, present in formulations obtained from commercial vendors (Baker et al., 2019). Here, we demonstrate that treatment of cells with pharmaceutical-grade rigosertib (>99.9% purity) results in qualitatively indistinguishable phenotypes as treatment with commercially obtained rigosertib across multiple assays. The two compounds have indistinguishable chemical-genetic interactions with genes involved in modulating the microtubule network (KIF2C and TACC3), both destabilize microtubules in cells and in vitro, and both show substantially reduced toxicity in cell lines expressing a rationally-designed mutant of tubulin (L240F TUBB mutant), in which the rigosertib binding site in tubulin is mutated. Importantly, the specificity of the L240F TUBB mutant for microtubule-destabilizing agents, which is disputed by Reddy and co-workers, was recently confirmed by an independent research group (Patterson et al., 2019). We conclude that rigosertib kills cancer cells by destabilizing microtubules, in agreement with our original findings.

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