Human mutations that confer paclitaxel resistance.

Publication Date



Molecular Cancer Therapeutics


The involvement of tubulin mutations as a cause of clinical drug resistance has been intensely debated in recent years. In the studies described here, we used transfection to test whether beta1-tubulin mutations and polymorphisms found in cancer patients are able to confer resistance to drugs that target microtubules. Three of four mutations (A185T, A248V, R306C, but not G437S) that we tested caused paclitaxel resistance, as indicated by the following observations: (a) essentially 100% of cells selected in paclitaxel contained transfected mutant tubulin; (b) paclitaxel resistance could be turned off using tetracycline to turn off transgene expression; (c) paclitaxel resistance increased as mutant tubulin production increased. All the paclitaxel resistance mutations disrupted microtubule assembly, conferred increased sensitivity to microtubule-disruptive drugs, and produced defects in mitosis. The results are consistent with a mechanism in which tubulin mutations alter microtubule stability in a way that counteracts drug action. These studies show that human tumor cells can acquire spontaneous mutations in beta1-tubulin that cause resistance to paclitaxel, and suggest that patients with some polymorphisms in beta1-tubulin may require higher drug concentrations for effective therapy.


Animals, Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic, CHO Cells, Cricetinae, Cricetulus, Demecolcine, Drug Resistance, Neoplasm, Epothilones, Humans, Mitosis, Mutation, Paclitaxel, Polymorphism, Genetic, Tubulin, Vinblastine