The microtubule as a breast cancer target

Breast Cancer. 2011 Apr;18(2):103-19. doi: 10.1007/s12282-010-0224-7. Epub 2010 Sep 23.


Manifestations of non-equilibrium polarity, random transgressions, and catastrophes are not conditions usually associated with a sense of normalcy. Yet these disquieting features distinguish a utilitarian behavior known as dynamic instability, the signature characteristic of the microtubule. Long known to be a tumor target, disruption of this fragile attribute is associated with some of the most effective agents used to treat breast cancer today. Although the biology of the microtubule is under intense investigation much still remains unknown. As such, our understanding of regulatory molecules and resistance mechanisms are still rudimentary, further compromising our ability to develop novel therapeutic strategies to improve microtubule inhibitors. This review focuses on several classes of anti-microtubule agents and their effects on the functional dynamics of the targeted polymer. The primary objective is to critically examine the molecular mechanisms that contribute to tumor cell death, tumor-resistance, and incident neurotoxicity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Vessels / drug effects
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Epothilones / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maytansine / therapeutic use
  • Microtubules / chemistry
  • Microtubules / drug effects*
  • Microtubules / physiology
  • Taxoids / therapeutic use
  • Vinca Alkaloids / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Epothilones
  • Taxoids
  • Vinca Alkaloids
  • Maytansine