In the present study, cross-drug resistance in multidrug-resistant (MDR) cells, which overexpress P-glycoprotein (Pgp), a mdr1 gene product, against Pgp-unrelated drugs, and its relevance to c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK)/stress-activated protein kinase (SAPK) activity were examined. The multidrug-resistant FM3A/M cells overexpressing Pgp were resistant to apoptotic cell death induced either by Pgp-related drugs including vincristine and vinblastine, which are pumped out by Pgp, or by the Pgp-unrelated drugs including 5'-fluorouracil (5-FU) and bleomycin, which are not targets for Pgp, compared with the parental FM3A cells. Verapamil reversed the resistance of FM3A/M cells to apoptosis induced by the Pgp-related drugs but not that induced by the Pgp-unrelated drugs. Interestingly, FM3A/M cells have shown significantly lower basal and drug-stimulated JNK/SAPK activities than FM3A cells. After transfection with pEBG-SEK or pEBG-SAPK constructs, FM3A/M cells recovered the basal and Pgp-unrelated drug-stimulated activities of JNK/SAPK and the susceptibility to Pgp-unrelated drug-induced apoptotic cell death comparable to those of FM3A cells. Furthermore, FM3A cells became resistant to apoptotic cell death induced by vincristine and 5-FU after transfection with pEBG-SEK(K --> R), a dominant negative inhibitory mutant of SEK. These results suggest that downregulation of JNK/SAPK activity appears to confer on Pgp-associated FM3A/M cells a cross-resistance to Pgp-unrelated drugs.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.