Microtubule inhibitors

Use this guide to select the optimal compounds to target microtubules and key microtubule-associating proteins.

Click to expand. Known microtubule binding sites for small molecule compounds.






Tubulin polymerization

Microtubule elongation following GTP-dependent tubulin dimer addition


Binds to αβ-tubulin dimers preventing assembly and promoting depolymerization.1



Binds to the colchicine binding site of β-tubulin, preventing αβ-tubulin dimer assembly.2,3

Combretastatin A4 (CA-4)

Glyoxbulin 59

Rigidin C2 Cpd 7 *New*

Binds at Asn258 and Lys352 of β-tubulin and suppresses tubulin polymerization. Exhibits in vivo efficacy.4

Tubstat3 Cpd 21 *New*

Dual action, potent tubulin polymerization and STAT3 phosphorylation inhibitor.5

Tubulin depolymerization

Shortening of microtubules by αβ-tubulin dimer removal


Binds and stabilizes tubulin dimers, prevents depolymerization and affects microtubule dynamics.6



Posttranslational modification affecting cargo trafficking

Trichostatin A (TSA)

Deacetylase inhibitor that increases microtubule acetylation.7


Posttranslational modification essential for microtubule stabilization

ZM 449829

Potent transglutaminase inhibitor.8

Microtubule Associating Proteins (MAPs)


Lattice binding MAPs that stabilize microtubules primarily in axons


Potently reduces Tau levels in vitro and ex vivo.9


MDL 28170

 Prevents MAP1,2 cleavage and degradation.10


Amyloid β-peptide (1-40)

Induces MAP1,2 protecolysis.10

Doublecortin (DCx)

Stabilizes and catalyzes tubulin dimer addition

Okadaic cid

Inhibits PP2A and affects DCx localization.11


Dephosphorylates DCx.11

Kinetochore formation


γ-tubulin ring complex essential for microtubule nucleation during mitosis

SB 415286

Inhibits GSK-3β mediated γ-TuRC recruitment to spindle poles.12

Aurora B

Microtubule stabilization during spindle formation


Selective Aurora B kinase inhibitor inducing apoptosis and growth arrest.13

ZM 447439

Specific Aurora B inhibitor causing apoptosis.13


Kinesin Spindle Protein (KSP)/Eg5/KIF11

Microtubule motor involved in mitotic pole separation


Inhibits kinesin Eg5 and alters its interaction with microtubules.14


Eg5 inhibitor that induces mitotic arrest.15


Motor protein that facilitates cargo transport and microtubule sliding in cilia/flagella

EHNA hydrochloride

Interferes with dynein mediated motility in microtubules.16


Modulates interaction of motors to cargo the arrangement of microtubules

Nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA)

Protects microtubules from depolymerization. Recruits dynein-dynactin complex to centrosome.17,18

Myosin II

Facilitaes crosstalk betweek microtubules and actin


Noncompetitive inhibitor of Myosin II.19


1. Jordan, M. a, Thrower, D. & Wilson, L. Effects of vinblastine, podophyllotoxin and nocodazole on mitotic spindles. Implications for the role of microtubule dynamics in mitosis. J. Cell Sci. 102 (Pt 3, 401–416 (1992).

2. Lu, Y., Chen, J., Xiao, M., Li, W. & Miller, D. D. An overview of tubulin inhibitors that interact with the colchicine binding site. Pharm. Res. 29, 2943–2971 (2012).

3. Colley, H. E. et al. An Orally Bioavailable, Indole-3-glyoxylamide Based Series of Tubulin Polymerization Inhibitors Showing Tumor Growth Inhibition in a Mouse Xenograft Model of Head and Neck Cancer. J. Med. Chem. 58, 9309–9333 (2015).

4. Medellin, D. C. et al. Novel Microtubule-Targeting 7-Deazahypoxanthines Derived from Marine Alkaloid Rigidins with Potent in Vitro and in Vivo Anticancer Activities. J. Med. Chem. 59, 480–485 (2016).

5. Lai, M.-J. et al. N -Sulfonyl-aminobiaryls as Antitubulin Agents and Inhibitors of Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription 3 (STAT3) Signaling. J. Med. Chem. 58, 6549-58 (2015).

6. Verweij, J., Clavel, M. & Chevalier, B. Paclitaxel (Taxol) and docetaxel (Taxotere): not simply two of a kind. Ann. Oncol. 5, 495–505 (1994).

7. Godena, V. K. et al. Increasing microtubule acetylation rescues axonal transport and locomotor deficits caused by LRRK2 Roc-COR domain mutations. Nat. Commun. 5, 5245 (2014).

8. Lai, T. S. et al. Identification of Chemical Inhibitors to Human Tissue Transglutaminase by Screening Existing Drug Libraries. Chem. Biol. 15, 969–978 (2008).

9. Abisambra, J. et al. Allosteric heat shock protein 70 inhibitors rapidly rescue synaptic plasticity deficits by reducing aberrant tau. Biol. Psychiatry 74, 367–374 (2013).

10. Fifre, A. et al. Microtubule-associated protein MAP1A, MAP1B, and MAP2 proteolysis during soluble amyloid β-peptide-induced neuronal apoptosis: Synergistic involvement of calpain and caspase-3. J. Biol. Chem. 281, 229–240 (2006).

11. Schaar, B. T., Kinoshita, K. & McConnell, S. K. Doublecortin Microtubule Affinity Is Regulated by a Balance of Kinase and Phosphatase Activity at the Leading Edge of Migrating Neurons. Neuron 41, 203–213 (2004).

12. Izumi, N., Fumoto, K., Izumi, S. & Kikuchi, A. GSK-3beta regulates proper mitotic spindle formation in cooperation with a component of the gamma-tubulin ring complex, GCP5. J. Biol. Chem. 283, 12981–12991 (2008).

13. Yang, J. et al. AZD1152, a novel and selective aurora B kinase inhibitor, induces growth arrest,  apoptosis, and sensitization for tubulin depolymerizing agent or topoisomerase II inhibitor in human acute leukemia cells in vitro and in vivo. Blood 110, 2034–2040 (2007).

14. Krzysiak, T. C. et al. A structural model for monastrol inhibition of dimeric kinesin Eg5. EMBO J. 25, 2263–2273 (2006).

15. Skoufias, D. A. et al. S-trityl-L-cysteine is a reversible, tight binding inhibitor of the human kinesin Eg5 that specifically blocks mitotic progression. J. Biol. Chem. 281, 17559–17569 (2006).

16.  Lecland, N. & Lüders, J. The dynamics of microtubule minus ends in the human mitotic spindle. Nat. Cell Biol. 16, 770–8 (2014).

17. Nakamura, M. et al. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid, of a new family of microtubule-stabilizing agents, shows effects differentiated from paclitaxel. Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem. 67, 151–157 (2003).

18. Arasaki, K., Tani, K., Yoshimori, T. & Stephens, D. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid affects multiple dynein-dynactin functions in interphase and mitotic cells. Mol. Pharmacol. 71, 454–460 (2007).

19. Bond, L. M., Tumbarello, D. a, Kendrick-Jones, J. & Buss, F. Small-molecule inhibitors of myosin proteins. Future Med. Chem. 5, 41–52 (2013).

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