A putative ubiquitin conjugating enzyme known as UBE2Q2 was previously identified in a microarray screen for mitotic regulatory proteins. UBE2Q2 is very similar to another human protein, UBE2Q1 and orthologs from other higher eukaryotic species. In these studies, we demonstrate that UBE2Q2 can covalently bind ubiquitin on the active site cysteine in vitro and show that inhibition of this protein in vivo causes an early mitotic arrest and increased cytotoxicity when cells are treated with microtubule inhibiting agents (MIAs). Changes in cell cycle progression and viability are not observed in the absence of MIA treatment, indicating that UBE2Q2 is involved in the response to MIAs rather than performing a more general function in mitosis. Inhibition of the UBE2Q2 protein causes cells to undergo a prolonged prophase arrest suggesting that UBE2Q2 normally functions to antagonize an early mitotic checkpoint. Furthermore, UBE2Q2 inhibition sensitizes cells to the cytotoxic effects of MIAs through caspase-mediated apoptosis that is correlated with PARP-1 cleavage. These data provide insights into the cellular response to MIAs and demonstrate that inhibition of UBE2Q2 protein function may be useful in the treatment of malignancies. © 2007 Nature Publishing Group All rights reserved.