Taxanes (paclitaxel and docetaxel) are currently used to treat ovarian, breast, lung, and head and neck cancers. Despite its clinical success taxane-based treatment could be significantly improved by identifying those patients whose tumors are more likely to present a clinical response. In this mini-review we discuss the accumulating evidence indicating that the breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility gene product BRCA1 mediates cellular response to taxanes. We review data from in vitro, animal, and clinical studies, and discuss them in context of response to therapy. We argue that levels of BRCA1 in tumors may provide a predictive marker for the response to treatment with taxanes. In addition, the study of the role of BRCA1 in the mechanism of action of taxanes might reveal alternative approaches to avoid resistance.
Keywords: Taxol, taxane, BRCA1, cancer, biomarker, microtubule, tubulin, chemotherapy