The ABC transporters MDR1 and MRP2: multiple functions in disposition of xenobiotics and drug resistance

Drug Metab Rev. 2004 Oct;36(3-4):669-701. doi: 10.1081/dmr-200033473.


ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters comprise one of the largest membrane bound protein families. They are involved in transport of numerous compounds. These proteins transport substrates against a concentration gradient with ATP hydrolysis as a driving force across the membrane. Mammalian ABC proteins have important physiological, pharmacological and toxicological functions including the transport of lipids, bile salts, drugs, toxic and environmental agents. The efflux pumps serve both as natural defense mechanisms and influence the bioavailability and disposition of drugs. In general terms, the transporters remove xenobiotics from the cellular environment. For example, in cancer cells, over expression of these molecules may confer to multidrug resistance against cytostatic drugs. In addition, based on diverse structural characteristics and a broad substrate specifity, ABC transport proteins alter the intracellular concentration of a variety of therapeutically used compounds and toxicologically relevant agents. We review the function of the human multidrug resistance protein MDR1, (P-glycoprotein, ABCB1) and the multidrug resistance protein MRP2 (ABCC2). We focus on four topics namely 1) structure and physiological functions of these transporters, 2) substrates e.g., drugs, xenotoxins, and environmental toxicants including their conjugates, 3) drug-drug interactions, and the role of chemosensitizers which may be able to reverse drug resistance, and 4) pharmacologically and toxicologically relevant genetic polymorphisms in transport proteins and their clinical implications.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / chemistry
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / chemistry
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Xenobiotics / metabolism*


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins
  • Xenobiotics
  • multidrug resistance-associated protein 2