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Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell mutants resistant to the cytotoxic effects of taxol and requiring the drug for normal growth were isolated in a single step. One of these mutant cell lines, Tax-18, fails to divide in the absence of taxol; instead, the cells become larger, rounder, flatter, and multinucleated. Analysis by flow cytometry indicates that during taxol deprivation there is an accumulation of cells in G2 + M phase but that the cells are able to leak through the block in the absence of cell division and further increase their DNA content beyond the tetraploid amount. This interpretation is confirmed by karyotype analysis and by time-lapse studies that show cells rounded for mitosis two to five times longer than in wild-type cultures or in Tax-18 cultures grown in taxol. The cells finally attempt to undergo cytokinesis, fail, and spread out again, but as larger cells than before. Tax-18 has a normal growth rate and morphology when grown in taxol even at concentrations three to five times below the selecting concentration of the drug. The cells, however, have increased sensitivity to microtubule-disrupting drugs such as colcemid, griseofulvin, and D2 O. The mutation for taxol auxotrophy behaves recessively in somatic cell hybridization experiments, and the phenotypic reversion rate is ∼ 10-5 in a nonmutagenized population. Both α- and β-tubulin are present in apparently normal amounts and with normal electrophoretic mobilities on two-dimensional gels. The results suggest that Tax-18 lacks a factor necessary for mitosis and that taxol may be able to substitute for this factor.
The Journal of Cell Biology