The ligands of tubulin have proved to be excellent probes for the conformation of the tubulin molecule. The most varied in their effects on tubulin are those ligands which are competitive or noncompetitive inhibitors of vinblastine binding. The 4(H)-pyrizinone derivative 2-(4-fluorophenyl)-l- (2-chloro-3,5-dimethoxyphenyl)-3-methyl-6-phenyl-4(lH)-pyridinone (IKP104) is a novel antimitotic drug which inhibits microtubule assembly in vitro and in vivo and polymerizes tubulin into spiral filaments. Using a fluorescence assay, we found that IKP104 appears to bind to tubulin at two classes of site, differing in affinity. IKP104 also blocks formation of an intrachain cross-link in β-tubulin, induced by N,N'- ethylenebis(iodoacetamide), linking Cys12 to either Cys201 or Cys211. IKP104 appears to belong to that group of tubulin ligands which includes vinblastine, maytansine, rhizoxin, phomopsin A, dolastatin 10, and halichondrin B. An unusual effect of IKP104 is that it greatly enhances the decay or apparent unfolding or opening of the tubulin molecule. The sulfhydryl titer of tubulin is doubled and the exposure of hydrophobic areas on the tubulin molecule is tripled by IKP104. These effects of IKP104 are counteracted by vinblastine, maytansine, and phomopsin A, suggesting that IKP104 may be competing with these other drugs for binding to tubulin. However, the effects are also counteracted by colchicine and podophyllotoxin, implying a more complex effect, namely, that IKP104 and colchicine, even when both are bound to tubulin, are competing for their effects on the same domain of tubulin. Surprisingly, when IKP104 is used in conjunction with colchicine, binding of colchicine to tubulin is strongly stabilized. It appears that IKP104 has an unusual and complex effect on the conformation of the tubulin molecule, perhaps stabilizing the domain to which it binds and simultaneously destabilizing the domain to which colchicine binds.
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