Multidrug resistance in cells transfected with human genes encoding a variant P-glycoprotein and glutathione S-transferase-π

Craig R. Fairchild, Jeffrey A. Moscow, Erin E. O'Brien, Kenneth H. Cowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


The nucleotide sequence of the mdr1 gene encoding a putative drug efflux pump (P-glycoprotein) is homologous to a class of bacterial membrane-associated transport proteins. These bacterial proteins are part of a multicomponent system that includes soluble periplasmic proteins that bind substrates, channeling them through the membrane in an energy-dependent manner. We have investigated the possibility that a similar multicomponent transport system exists in a multidrug-resistant human MCF-7 breast cancer cell line that was initially selected for resistance to doxorubicin (AdrR MCF-7). AdrR MCF-7 cells overexpress both the mdr1 gene and the π class isozyme of glutathione S-transferase (GST-π) (EC The latter is one of several isozymes known to have a ligand-binding function in addition to drug-metabolizing capabilities. Although we have recently shown that transfection of a functional GST-π expression vector is insufficient to confer resistance to doxorubicin in cells that lack P-glycoprotein expression [Mol. Pharmacol. 36:22-28 (1989)], we examined the possibility that GST-π interacts with P-glycoprotein to alter multidrug resistance. To do this, we have cloned cDNAs encoding these proteins from AdrR MCF-7 cells, constructed expression vectors containing these two genes, and transfected these vectors sequentially into drug-sensitive MCF-7 cells. The human mdr1 cDNA isolated from AdrR MCF-7 is a variant gene whose sequence differs from that isolated previously from vinblastine-resistant KB cells [Cell 53:519-529 (1989)], resulting in an amino acid substitution of alanine to serine at position 893 (mdr1/893ala). Transfection of eukaryotic expression vectors containing the mdr1 gene isolated from AdrR MCF-7 cells produced a multidrug-resistant phenotype in recipient cells, with a cross-resistance pattern similar to that in the AdrR MCF-7 cells. To determine whether GST-π expression could augment resistance provided by mdr1, two clones transfected with mdr1, one with high levels (153% of mdr1 RNA in AdR MCF-7 cells) and one with low levels (10% of mdr1 RNA in AdrR MCF-7 cells), were subsequently cotransfected with a GST-π expression vector and pSVNeo and selected for resistance to G418. Six of these clones contained levels of GST-π that were 8- to 18-fold greater than GST levels found in mdr1-expressing clones transfected with nonspecific DNA. We found no difference in the degree of resistance to doxorubicin, actinomycin D, and vinblastine between the clones expressing mdr1 only and the clones expressing both mdr1 and GST-π. Therefore, under these conditions, GST-π does not appear to act in conjunction with P-glycoprotein to alter the pattern or level of multidrug resistance in MCF-7 cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)801-809
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular pharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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