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Deconstructing Survivin: comprehensive genetic analysis of Survivin function by conditional knockout in a vertebrate cell line

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  • Zuojun Yue
  • Ana Carvalho
  • Zhenjie Xu
  • Xuemei Yuan
  • Stefano Cardinale
  • Susana Ribeiro
  • Fan Lai
  • Hiromi Ogawa
  • Elisabet Gudmundsdottir
  • Reto Gassmann
  • Ciaran G. Morrison
  • Sandrine Ruchaud
  • William C. Earnshaw

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-296
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2008


Survivin is a key cellular protein thought to function in apoptotic regulation, mitotic progression, or possibly both. In this study, we describe the isolation of two conditional knockouts of the survivin gene in chicken DT40 cells. DT40 cells lacking Survivin die in interphase after failing to complete cytokinesis. However, these cells show normal sensitivity to the chemotherapeutic agent etoposide. Expression of Survivin mutants against a null background to reassess the role of several key residues reveals that DT40 cells can grow normally if their sole Survivin is missing a widely studied cyclin-dependent kinase phosphorylation site or sites reportedly essential for binding to Smac or aurora B. Mutations in the nuclear export sequence or dimerization interface render cells temperature sensitive for growth. As an important caveat for other studies in which protein function is studied by transient transfection, three of the Survivin mutants fail to localize in the presence of the wild-type protein but do localize and indeed support life in its absence.

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