Cancer research: a drug derivative to curb cell division

Blocking the proliferation of cancer cells is a priority target in the fight against cancer. Scientists from Rennes, in association with Italian colleagues, have shown that a new molecule derived from benzodiazepines can slow the growth of microtubules essential for cell division. This reversible effect was observed in human and insect cells and gave rise to an article published in the journal Journal of Cell Science (April 6, 2020).

Stopping cell division

When dividing, the cell must reorganize its cytoskeleton, which is made up of microtubules to form a structure called a mitotic spindle. This allows the faithful distribution of genetic material (chromosomes) between the two future daughter cells.

Degradation of this spindle causes blocking of cell division. This process therefore constitutes a prime target in cancer research aimed at developing new therapeutic approaches.

IGDR scientists have shown with Italian colleagues the antiproliferative potential of a new molecule, derived from benzodiazepines and dubbed "1g". After having exposed live human cells to this molecule in vitro, the researchers carried out a series of observations by imaging, using Biic's MRic Photonics platform

They were thus able to describe and characterize the blocking of cell division by the "1g": this produces a reversible alteration of the assembly of the mitotic bundle and of the attachment of chromosomes. The molecule slows the growth rate of microtubules by an average of a quarter without interacting directly with tubulin, the protein that makes them up. Interestingly, the effect of "1g" is also observable on insect cells (Drosophila fly).


A novel benzodiazepine derivative that suppresses microtubule dynamics and impairs mitotic progression
Vittoria Pirani, Mathieu Métivier, Emmanuel Gallaud, Alexandre Thomas, Siou Ku, Denis Chretien, Roberta Ettari, Regis Giet, Lorenzo Corsi, Christelle Benaud
Journal of Cell Science 2020 133: jcs239244 doi:10.1242/jcs.239244

This work received the support of the Erasmus + program, the League against cancer (Greater West-Britain), the National Research Agency, the Fondazione di Vignola, the Brittany Region, the Foundation for Medical Research and the League and ARC Foundation for Cancer Research.


[This article is a slight adaptation of a presentation written by C. Benaud from the Régis Giet Group.]


Original source: News published on the University of Rennes1 website