Optical Control of Mitosis with a Photoswitchable Eg5 Inhibitor

Anna C. Impastato, Andrej Shemet, Nynke A. Vepřek, Gadiel Saper, Henry Hess, Lu Rao, Arne Gennerich, Dirk Trauner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Eg5 is a kinesin motor protein that is responsible for bipolar spindle formation and plays a crucial role during mitosis. Loss of Eg5 function leads to the formation of monopolar spindles, followed by mitotic arrest, and subsequent cell death. Several cell-permeable small molecules have been reported to inhibit Eg5 and some have been evaluated as anticancer agents. We now describe the design, synthesis, and biological evaluation of photoswitchable variants with five different pharmacophores. Our lead compound Azo-EMD is a cell permeable azobenzene that inhibits Eg5 more potently in its light-induced cis form. This activity decreased the velocity of Eg5 in single-molecule assays, promoted formation of monopolar spindles, and led to mitotic arrest in a light dependent way.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere202115846
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number9
StatePublished - Feb 21 2022


  • Cytoskeleton
  • Motor proteins
  • Photopharmacology
  • Povarov multicomponent reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry


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