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The Elephant In The Room: The Role Of Microtubules In Cancer.

Luca Cirillo, M. Gotta, P. Meraldi
Published 2017 · Biology, Medicine

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Microtubules are the backbone of all eukaryotic cells cytoskeleton. Their dynamic behaviour constitutes the basis for many biological processes such as cellular motility, cytoplasmic transport and cell division. Some the most effective chemotherapeutics, such as the taxanes, are microtubule interfering drugs. Moreover, many studies suggest that microtubule dynamics are altered in cancer cell divisions and linked to chromosomal instability, aneuploidy and development of drug resistances. The elephant in the room, however, is that despite all these evidences, the exact role of microtubules in malignancies remains elusive, partially due to the lack of clear genetic alterations linking microtubules to cancer. This review will discuss the molecular mechanisms that might alter microtubule dynamics in cancer cells, the pro and cons of the different theories linking these alterations to cancer progression, and the possible directions to address future key questions.
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