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Sodium selenite alters microtubule assembly and induces apoptosis in vitro and in vivo

Kejian Shi, Qian Jiang, Zhushi Li, Lei Shan, Feng Li, JiaJia An, Yang Yang and Caimin Xu*

Author Affiliations

State Key Laboratory of Medical Molecular Biology, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, CAMS & PUMC, Beijing 100005, China

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Journal of Hematology & Oncology 2013, 6:7  doi:10.1186/1756-8722-6-7

Published: 17 January 2013



Previous studies demonstrated that selenite induced cancer-cell apoptosis through multiple mechanisms; however, effects of selenite on microtubules in leukemic cells have not been demonstrated.


The toxic effect of selenite on leukemic HL60 cells was performed with cell counting kit 8. Selenite effects on cell cycle distribution and apoptosis induction were determined by flow cytometry. The contents of cyclin B1, Mcl-1, AIF, cytochrome C, insoluble and soluble tubulins were detected with western blotting. Microtubules were visualized with indirect immunofluorescence microscopy. The interaction between CDK1 and Mcl-1 was assessed with immunoprecipitation. Decreasing Mcl-1 and cyclin B1 expression were carried out through siRNA interference. The alterations of Mcl-1 and cyclin B1 in animal model were detected with either immunohistochemical staining or western blotting. In situ detection of apoptotic ratio was performed with TUNEL assay.


Our current results showed that selenite inhibited the growth of HL60 cells and induced mitochondrial-related apoptosis. Furthermore, we found that microtubule assembly in HL60 cells was altered, those cells were arrested at G2/M phase, and Cyclin B1 was up-regulated and interacted with CDK1, which led to down-regulation of the anti-apoptotic protein Mcl-1. Finally, in vivo experiments confirmed the in vitro microtubule disruption effect and alterations in Cyclin B1 and Mcl-1 levels by selenite.


Taken together, the results from our study indicate that microtubules are novel targets of selenite in leukemic HL60 cells.

Sodium selenite; Apoptosis; Microtubule; Cell cycle