Human ABC transporter ABCG2 in cancer chemotherapy and pharmacogenomics

J Exp Ther Oncol. 2009;8(1):5-24.


The ability of cancer cells to acquire resistance to multiple anticancer agents, termed multidrug resistance, is often mediated by overexpression of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters that remove drugs out of the cell against a concentration gradient. ABCG2, or breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP), is an ABC transporter that has been the subject of intense study since its discovery a decade ago. While ABCG2 overexpression has been demonstrated in cancer cells after in vitro drug treatment, endogenous ABCG2 expression in certain cancers is considered as a reflection of the differentiated phenotype of the cell of origin and likely contributes to intrinsic drug resistance. Notably, ABCG2 is often expressed in stem cell populations, where it plays a critical role in cellular protection. ABCG2 exhibits a broad range of substrate specificity. New technologies of high-speed screening and quantitative structure-activity-relationship (QSAR) analysis have been developed to analyze the interactions of drugs with ABCG2. As ABCG2 reportedly transports porphyrins, its contribution to photodynamic therapy of human cancer is also implicated. Protein expression levels of ABCG2 in cancer cells are regulated by both transcriptional activation and protein degradation. The ABCG2 protein undergoes endosomal and/or ubiquitin-mediated proteasomal degradations. Furthermore, genetic polymorphisms in the ABCG2 gene are important factors in cancer chemotherapy to circumvent adverse effects and/or to enhance the efficacy of anticancer drugs. The present review article addresses recent advances in molecular pharmacology and pharmacogenomics of ABCG2 and provides novelideas to improve cancer chemotherapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily G, Member 2
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / chemistry
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / physiology
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Gefitinib
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / chemistry
  • Neoplasm Proteins / physiology
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pharmacogenetics*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Quinazolines / pharmacology


  • ABCG2 protein, human
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily G, Member 2
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Quinazolines
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinases
  • Gefitinib