Transmembrane transport of endo- and xenobiotics by mammalian ATP-binding cassette multidrug resistance proteins

Physiol Rev. 2006 Jul;86(3):849-99. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00035.2005.


Multidrug Resistance Proteins (MRPs), together with the cystic fibrosis conductance regulator (CFTR/ABCC7) and the sulfonylurea receptors (SUR1/ABCC8 and SUR2/ABCC9) comprise the 13 members of the human "C" branch of the ATP binding cassette (ABC) superfamily. All C branch proteins share conserved structural features in their nucleotide binding domains (NBDs) that distinguish them from other ABC proteins. The MRPs can be further divided into two subfamilies "long" (MRP1, -2, -3, -6, and -7) and "short" (MRP4, -5, -8, -9, and -10). The short MRPs have a typical ABC transporter structure with two polytropic membrane spanning domains (MSDs) and two NBDs, while the long MRPs have an additional NH2-terminal MSD. In vitro, the MRPs can collectively confer resistance to natural product drugs and their conjugated metabolites, platinum compounds, folate antimetabolites, nucleoside and nucleotide analogs, arsenical and antimonial oxyanions, peptide-based agents, and, under certain circumstances, alkylating agents. The MRPs are also primary active transporters of other structurally diverse compounds, including glutathione, glucuronide, and sulfate conjugates of a large number of xeno- and endobiotics. In vivo, several MRPs are major contributors to the distribution and elimination of a wide range of both anticancer and non-anticancer drugs and metabolites. In this review, we describe what is known of the structure of the MRPs and the mechanisms by which they recognize and transport their diverse substrates. We also summarize knowledge of their possible physiological functions and evidence that they may be involved in the clinical drug resistance of various forms of cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / chemistry
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics*
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mammals
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Xenobiotics / metabolism*


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Xenobiotics