Localization of the ABCG2 mitoxantrone resistance-associated protein in normal tissues

Cancer Lett. 2006 Apr 8;235(1):84-92. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2005.04.024. Epub 2005 Jun 28.


Reduced drug accumulation due to overexpression of individual members of the ATP binding cassette (ABC) superfamily of membrane transporters has been investigated as a cause of multidrug resistance and treatment failure in oncology. This study was designed to develop an immunohistochemical assay to determine the expression and localization of the 72kDa ABC half-transporter ABCG2 in normal tissues. Formalin-fixed, paraffin embedded archival tissue from 31 distinct normal tissues with an average of eight separate tissue samples of each were immunostained with rabbit-anti-ABCG2 antibody 405 using a modified avidin-biotin procedure. As a negative control, each sample was also stained with antibody pre-adsorbed with peptide to assess background staining. As a means of verification, selected tissues were also stained with the commercially available monoclonal antibody 5D3. ABCG2 positivity was consistently found in alveolar pneumocytes, sebaceous glands, transitional epithelium of bladder, interstitial cells of testes, prostate epithelium, endocervical cells of uterus, squamous epithelium of cervix, small and large intestinal mucosa/epithelial cells, islet and acinar cells of pancreas, zona reticularis layer of adrenal gland, kidney cortical tubules and hepatocytes. Placental syncytiotrophoblasts showed both cytoplasmic and surface staining. Our results support a hypothesis concluding that ABCG2 plays a role in the protection of organs from cytotoxins. However, many of the cell types expressing ABCG2 have a significant secretory function. These data suggest a dual function for ABCG2 in some tissues: the excretion of toxins and xenobiotics including anti-cancer agents and a potential, as-yet undefined role in the secretion of endogenous substrates.

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily G, Member 2
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism*
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Paraffin Embedding
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution


  • ABCG2 protein, human
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily G, Member 2
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger