Low-level doxorubicin resistance in benzo[a]pyrene-treated KB-3-1 cells is associated with increased LRP expression and altered subcellular drug distribution

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2000 Apr 15;164(2):134-42. doi: 10.1006/taap.2000.8903.


The P-glycoprotein (P-gp)-negative epidermoid pharyngeal carcinoma cells KB-3-1 were grown in 0.25 mM benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) for 3 months and increased resistance to doxorubicin, but not to vinblastine, colchicine, or cisplatin, was found. Doxorubicin resistance was not altered by cyclosporin, the P-gp inhibitor. Intracellular accumulation of BaP or calcein, a substrate for P-gp and multidrug resistance protein (MRP), was not altered by inhibitors of the P-gp and MRP. The expression of cytochrome P450 (CYP) 1A1, lung-resistance-related protein (LRP), P-gp, and MRP was investigated. Overexpression of CYP1A and LRP, on the mRNA and protein levels, was found. BaP-treated KB-3-1 cells remained P-gp negative while the level of MRP was not altered. Subcellular accumulation of BaP was found to be localized in the cytoplasm and minimal in the nuclei in BaP treated cells. In contrast, even penetration of BaP to the nuclei and cytoplasm was found in untreated cells. Subcellular distribution of doxorubicin was altered following BaP treatment with localized accumulation of the cancer drug in cytoplasmic organelles but not in the nuclei. Our data suggested that LRP might play a protective role against toxic compounds. The correlation of increased expression of LRP, but not P-gp nor MRP, with decreased doxorubicin accumulation in the nuclear target suggests a pivotal role of this perinuclear transporter in the MDR phenotype of P-gp-negative cancer cells. These results also propose an alternative mechanism of cancer drug resistance emergence, namely, induction of LRP activity following treatment with BaP, an environmental toxicant and a carcinogen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / metabolism
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / drug effects
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Benzo(a)pyrene / metabolism
  • Benzo(a)pyrene / pharmacology*
  • Benzo(a)pyrene / toxicity
  • Doxorubicin / metabolism
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacology*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Fluoresceins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Indicators and Reagents / metabolism
  • KB Cells / drug effects*
  • KB Cells / metabolism
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Vault Ribonucleoprotein Particles / metabolism*


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Fluoresceins
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Vault Ribonucleoprotein Particles
  • major vault protein
  • Benzo(a)pyrene
  • Doxorubicin
  • fluorexon