Multiple cancer testis antigens function to support tumor cell mitotic fidelity

Kathryn M. Cappell, Rebecca Sinnott, Patrick Taus, Kimberly Maxfield, Moriah Scarbrough, Angelique W. Whitehurst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


While the expression of genes that are normally involved in spermatogenesis is frequently detected in tumors, the extent to which these gene products are required for neoplastic behaviors is unclear. To begin to address their functional relevance to tumorigenesis, we identified a cohort of proteins which display synthetic lethality with paclitaxel in non-small-cell lung cancer and whose expression is biased toward testes and tumors. Remarkably, these testis proteins, FMR1NB, NXF2, MAGEA5, FSIP1, and STARD6, are required for accurate chromosome segregation in tumor cells. Their individual depletion enhances the generation of multipolar spindles, increases mitotic transit time, and induces micronucleation in response to an otherwise innocuous dose of paclitaxel. The underlying basis for abnormal mitosis is an alteration in microtubule function, as their depletion increases microtubule cytaster formation and disrupts microtubule stability. Given these observations, we hypothesize that reactivated testis proteins may represent unique tumor cell vulnerabilities which, if targeted, could enhance responsiveness to antimitotic therapy. Indeed, we demonstrate that combining paclitaxel with a small-molecule inhibitor of the gametogenic and tumor cell mitotic protein TACC3 leads to enhanced centrosomal abnormalities, activation of death programs, and loss of anchorage-independent growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4131-4140
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and cellular biology
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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