Inhibition of mixed-lineage kinase (MLK) activity during G2-phase disrupts microtubule formation and mitotic progression in HeLa cells

Hyukjin Cha, Surabhi Dangi, Carolyn E. Machamer, Paul Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The mixed-lineage kinases (MLK) are serine/threonine protein kinases that regulate mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase signaling pathways in response to extracellular signals. Recent studies indicate that MLK activity may promote neuronal cell death through activation of the c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) family of MAP kinases. Thus, inhibitors of MLK activity may be clinically useful for delaying the progression of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's. In proliferating non-neuronal cells, MLK may have the opposite effect of promoting cell proliferation. In the current studies we examined the requirement for MLK proteins in regulating cell proliferation by examining MLK function during G2 and M-phase of the cell cycle. The MLK inhibitor CEP-11004 prevented HeLa cell proliferation by delaying mitotic progression. Closer examination revealed that HeLa cells treated with CEP-11004 during G2-phase entered mitosis similar to untreated G2-phase cells. However, CEP-11004 treated cells failed to properly exit mitosis and arrested in a pro-metaphase state. Partial reversal of the CEP-11004 induced mitotic arrest could be achieved by overexpression of exogenous MLK3. The effects of CEP-11004 treatment on mitotic events included the inhibition of histone H3 phosphorylation during prophase and prior to nuclear envelope breakdown and the formation of aberrant mitotic spindles. These data indicate that MLK3 might be a unique target to selectively inhibit transformed cell proliferation by disrupting mitotic spindle formation resulting in mitotic arrest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-104
Number of pages12
JournalCellular Signalling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Cell cycle
  • MAP kinase
  • Mitosis
  • Mixed-lineage kinase
  • Phosphorylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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