Microtubules and resistance to tubulin-binding agents

Nat Rev Cancer. 2010 Mar;10(3):194-204. doi: 10.1038/nrc2803. Epub 2010 Feb 11.


Microtubules are dynamic structures composed of alpha-beta-tubulin heterodimers that are essential in cell division and are important targets for cancer drugs. Mutations in beta-tubulin that affect microtubule polymer mass and/or drug binding are associated with resistance to tubulin-binding agents such as paclitaxel. The aberrant expression of specific beta-tubulin isotypes, in particular betaIII-tubulin, or of microtubule-regulating proteins is important clinically in tumour aggressiveness and resistance to chemotherapy. In addition, changes in actin regulation can also mediate resistance to tubulin-binding agents. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that mediate resistance to tubulin-binding agents will be vital to improve the efficacy of these agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Humans
  • Microtubules / chemistry
  • Microtubules / drug effects*
  • Microtubules / genetics
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Paclitaxel / therapeutic use
  • Protein Binding
  • Tubulin / genetics
  • Tubulin / metabolism
  • Tubulin Modulators / therapeutic use*


  • Tubulin
  • Tubulin Modulators
  • Paclitaxel