The Effect of Tau and Taxol on Polymerization of MCF7 Microtubules In Vitro

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Jan 8;23(2):677. doi: 10.3390/ijms23020677.


Overexpression of Tau protein in breast cancer cells is identified as an indicator for potential resistance to taxane-based therapy. As reported findings have been obtained mostly from clinical studies, the undetermined underlying mechanism of such drug resistance needs to be thoroughly explored through comprehensive in vitro evaluations. Tau and Taxol bind to the beta tubulin site in microtubules' structure. This is of particular interest in breast cancer, as microtubules of these cancer cells are structurally distinct from some other microtubules, such as neuronal microtubules, due to their unique beta tubulin isotype distribution. The observed changes in the in vitro polymerization of breast cancer microtubules, and the different function of some molecular motors along them, leave open the possibility that the drug resistance mechanism can potentially be associated with different responses of these microtubules to Tau and Taxol. We carried out a series of parallel experiments to allow comparison of the in vitro dual effect of Tau and Taxol on the polymerization of MCF7 microtubules. We observed a concentration-dependent demotion-like alteration in the self-polymerization kinetics of Tau-induced MCF7 microtubules. In contrast, microtubules polymerized under the simultaneous effects of Tau and Taxol showed promoted assembly as compared with those observed in Tau-induced microtubules. The analysis of our data obtained from the length of MCF7 microtubules polymerized under the interaction with Tau and Taxol in vitro suggests that the phenomenon known as drug resistance in microtubule-targeted drugs such as Taxol may not be directly linked to the different responses of microtubules to the drug. The effect of the drug may be mitigated due to the simultaneous interactions with other microtubule-associated proteins such as Tau protein. The observed regulatory effect of Tau and Taxol on the polymerization of breast cancer microtubules in vitro points to additional evidence for the possible role of tubulin isotypes in microtubules' functions.

Keywords: MCF7 cell; Tau protein; Taxol; drug resistance; microtubule; tubulin isotypes.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Microtubules / drug effects
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Paclitaxel / pharmacology*
  • Polymerization*
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • tau Proteins
  • Paclitaxel