Taxol Biosynthesis

A Review of Some Determinant Steps
  • Kevin Walker
  • Rodney Croteau
Part of the Recent Advances in Phytochemistry book series (RAPT, volume 33)


Taxol1 (Fig. 1) is one of the structurally more complex members of the taxoid family characterized by the tricyclic diterpene taxane ring system. Taxol was first purified from Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia) bark in 19702 after extracts from this material showed cytostatic activity against cancer cells.3 Classical antineoplastic drugs (e.g., vinblastine, colchicine, podophyllotoxin, maytansine, and others) act by inhibiting polymerization of microtubules. However, in 1979, Taxol was found to exhibit a novel cytostatic mechanism that involves the promotion of tubulin polymerization and stablization of assembled microtubules with consequent blocking of normal mitotic spindle development and cell division.4 Discodermolides5 and epothilones6 are other natural products with this unusual mode of action. Taxol, as a new, alternative cell spindle poison, was ultimately promoted to clinical testing.


Cinnamic Acid Methyl Jasmonate Isopentenyl Diphosphate Geranylgeranyl Diphosphate Taxol Biosynthesis 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin Walker
    • 1
  • Rodney Croteau
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Biological ChemistryWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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