P-glycoprotein as multidrug transporter: a critical review of current multidrug resistant cell lines

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1992 Jul 7;1139(3):169-83. doi: 10.1016/0925-4439(92)90131-6.


MDR has been studied extensively in mammalian cell lines. According to usual practice, the MDR phenotype is characterized by the following features: cross resistance to multiple chemotherapeutic agents (lipophilic cations), defective intracellular drug accumulation and retention, overexpression of P-gp (often accompanied by gene amplification), and reversal of the phenotype by addition of calcium channel blockers. An hypothesis for the function of P-gp has been proposed in which P-gp acts as a carrier protein that actively extrudes MDR compounds out of the cells. However, basic questions, such as what defines the specificity of the pump and how is energy for active efflux transduced, remain to be answered. Furthermore, assuming that P-gp acts as a drug transporter, one will expect a relationship between P-gp expression and accumulation defects in MDR cell lines. A review of papers reporting 97 cell lines selected for resistance to the classical MDR compounds has revealed that a connection exists in most of the reported cell lines. However, several exceptions can be pointed out. Furthermore, only a limited number of well characterized series of sublines with different degrees of resistance to a single agent have been reported. In many of these, a correlation between P-gp expression and transport properties can not be established. Co-amplification of genes adjacent to the mdr1 gene, mutations [122], splicing of mdr1 RNA [123], modulation of P-gp by phosphorylation [124] or glycosylation [127], or experimental conditions [26,78] could account for some of the complexity of the phenotype and the absence of correlation in some of the cell lines. However, both cell lines with overexpression of P-gp without increased efflux [i.e., 67,75] and cell lines without P-gp expression and accumulation defects/increased efflux [i.e., 25,107] have been reported. Thus, current results from MDR cell lines contradict--but do not exclude--that P-gp acts as multidrug transporter. Other models for the mechanism of resistance have been proposed: (1) An energy-dependent permeability barrier working with greater efficacy in resistant cells. This hypothesis is supported by studies of influx which, although few, all except one demonstrate decreased influx in resistant cells; (2) Resistant cells have a greater endosomal volume, and a greater exocytotic activity accounts for the efflux.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Line*
  • Colchicine / pharmacology
  • Dactinomycin / pharmacology
  • Daunorubicin / pharmacology
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacology
  • Drug Resistance*
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology*
  • Vinca Alkaloids / pharmacology


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Vinca Alkaloids
  • Dactinomycin
  • Doxorubicin
  • Colchicine
  • Daunorubicin