Wild-type Saccharomyces cerevisiae tubulin does not bind the anti-mitotic microtubule stabilizing agent paclitaxel. Previously, we introduced mutations into the S. cerevisiae gene for beta-tubulin that imparted paclitaxel binding to the protein, but the mutant strain was not sensitive to paclitaxel and other microtubule-stabilizing agents, due to the multiple ABC transporters in the membranes of budding yeast. Here, we introduced the mutated beta-tubulin gene into a S. cerevisiae strain with diminished transporter activity and developed the first paclitaxel-sensitive budding yeast strain. In the presence of paclitaxel, cytoplasmic microtubules were stable to cold depolymerization. Paclitaxel-treated cells showed evidence of a mitotic block, with an increase in large-budded cells and cells with a 2N DNA content and DNA fragmentation, identified by FACS analysis and the TUNEL assay. In the presence of paclitaxel, the number of dead cells in cultures increased three-fold and cells containing reactive oxygen species were present. We conclude that paclitaxel blocks mitosis in this strain, leading to an apoptotic-like cell death. This strain will also be useful in further studies of the effect of microtubule dynamics on various cellular processes in S. cerevisiae.
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