Cancer chemoresistance: the relationship between p53 and multidrug transporters

Int J Cancer. 2002 Mar 20;98(3):323-30. doi: 10.1002/ijc.10226.


Extensive studies indicate that both p53 and multidrug transporters play important roles in chemoresistance. Since the initial reports a decade ago demonstrating a transcriptional dependence of the ABCB1 gene (MDR) promoter by p53, much data have been accumulated. However, despite being the subject of intense study, this p53-MDR relationship remains unclear in human cancers. The data are confounded by variable and contrasting results when considering the in vitro regulation and attempting to draw parallels in tissue specimens. The original model suggested that wild-type p53 downregulates the ABCB1 promoter, whereas mutant p53 increases expression of ABCB1. This review summarizes the data for and against this hypothesis. What emerges from these studies is a complex picture, where data have been obtained in support of this hypothesis, but there are also many circumstances where it is not supported. Taken together, these data suggest that the relationship between p53 and multidrug transporters is conditional. It is dependent on cellular environment, the drug used, and the nature of the p53 mutation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / physiology
  • Genes, p53 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / physiology*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*


  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins
  • multidrug resistance-associated protein 1