G-quadruplex stabilizers such as telomestatin and HXDV bind with exquisite specificity to G-quadruplexes, but not to triplex, duplex, or single-stranded DNAs. Studies have suggested that the antiproliferative and possibly anti-tumor activities of these compounds are linked to their inhibitory effect on telomerase and/or telomere function. In the current studies, we show that HXDV, a synthetic analog of telomestatin, exhibits antiproliferative activity against both telomerase-positive and -negative cells and induces robust apoptosis within 16 h of treatment, suggesting a mode of action independent of telomerase. HXDV was also shown to inhibit cell cycle progression causing M-phase cell cycle arrest, as evidenced by accumulation of cells with 4 N DNA content, increased mitotic index, separated centrosomes, elevated histone H3 phosphorylation at Ser-10 (an M-phase marker), and defective chromosome alignment and spindle fiber assembly (revealed by time-lapse microscopy). The M-phase arrest caused by HXDV paralleled with reduction in the expression level of the major M-phase checkpoint regulator Aurora A. All these cellular effects appear to depend on the G-quadruplex binding activity of HXDV as its non-G-quadruplex binding analog, TXTLeu, is completely devoid of all these effects. In the aggregate, our results suggest that HXDV, which exhibits anti-proliferative and apoptotic activities, is also a novel M-phase blocker, with a mode of action dependent on its G-quadruplex binding activity.
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