The expression and function of organic anion transporting polypeptides in normal tissues and in cancer

Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2012;52:135-51. doi: 10.1146/annurev-pharmtox-010510-100556. Epub 2011 Aug 15.


Organic anion transporting polypeptides (OATPs) are members of the SLCO gene superfamily of proteins. The 11 human OATPs are classified into 6 families and subfamilies on the basis of their amino acid sequence similarities. OATPs are expressed in several epithelial tissues throughout the body and transport mainly amphipathic molecules with molecular weights of more than 300 kDa. Members of the OATP1 and OATP2 families are functionally the best-characterized OATPs. Among these are the multispecific OATP1A2, OATP1B1, OATP1B3, and OATP2B1. They transport various endo- and xenobiotics, including hormones and their conjugates as well as numerous drugs such as several anticancer agents. Recent reports demonstrate that some OATPs are up- or downregulated in several cancers and that OATP expression might affect cancer development. On the basis of the findings summarized in this review, we propose that OATPs could be valuable targets for anticancer therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Down-Regulation
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Organic Anion Transporters / genetics*
  • Organic Anion Transporters / metabolism*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Up-Regulation
  • Xenobiotics / metabolism*


  • Hormones
  • Organic Anion Transporters
  • Xenobiotics