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Cancer Res. 2002 Dec 1;62(23):6864-9.

Effect of stathmin on the sensitivity to antimicrotubule drugs in human breast cancer.

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The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Department of Medicine, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 195 Little Albany Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901, USA.


Stathmin is a p53-regulated protein known to influence microtubule dynamics. Because several chemotherapeutic agents used to treat breast cancer alter the dynamic equilibrium of tubulin polymerization, stathmin may play an important role in determining the sensitivity to these drugs. Therefore, we evaluated the effect of stathmin expression on the action of taxanes and Vinca alkaloids using a panel of human breast cancer cell lines. Cell lines harboring mutant p53 expressed high levels of stathmin. Two cell lines with different levels of endogenous stathmin expression and isogenic-paired cell lines transfected to overexpress stathmin were used to determine whether or not stathmin modulated the sensitivity to drugs. Overexpression of stathmin decreased polymerization of microtubules, markedly decreased binding of paclitaxel, and increased binding of vinblastine. Stathmin overexpression decreased sensitivity to paclitaxel and, to a lesser extent, to vinblastine. In contrast, stathmin content had no significant effect on the sensitivity to chemotherapeutic drugs that do not target microtubules. Cell lines overexpressing stathmin were more likely to enter G(2) but less likely to enter mitosis as determined by fluorescence-activated cell sorting and mitotic index. This effect was magnified when stathmin-overexpressing cells were treated with vinblastine as measured by the detection of proteins phosphorylated in early mitosis. These data suggest that the action of antimicrotubule drugs can be affected by stathmin in at least two ways: (a) altered drug binding; and (b) growth arrest at the G(2) to M boundary. Mutant p53 breast cancers exhibiting high levels of stathmin may be resistant to antimicrotubule agents.

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