The function of the multidrug resistance proteins (MRP and cMRP) in drug conjugate transport and hepatobiliary excretion

Adv Enzyme Regul. 1996;36:17-29. doi: 10.1016/0065-2571(95)00011-9.


The MRP gene encodes a 190-kDa integral membrane glycoprotein which functions as a primary-active ATP-dependent export pump for amphiphilic anions. The MRP gene-encoded conjugate export pump and its canalicular isoform represent the transport activity which has been described earlier as multispecific organic anion transporter, non-bile acid organic anion transporter, glutathione S-conjugate export pump, or leukotriene export pump. Analyses of the substrate specificity of the human MRP pump were performed in plasma membrane vesicles from MRP-overexpressing drug-selected cells (7) and cells transfected with an MRP expression vector (8). Substrates for MRP include thioether-linked conjugates of lipophilic compounds with glutathione, cysteinyl glycine, cysteine, and N-acetyl cysteine, but also glutathione disulfide, and glucuronate conjugates such as etoposide glucuronide. This broad-specificity ATP-dependent export pump is not only overexpressed in several multidrug resistant tumor cells and tissues, but is also present in most normal cells and tissues. The expression of cMRP and MRP in human liver and of cMrp and its homolog Mrp in rat liver was demonstrated by reverse transcription PCR, cDNA sequencing, and immunoblotting (13). The important function of the cMRP gene-encoded broad-specificity conjugate export pump in hepatobiliary excretion is illustrated by the selective absence of this canalicular isoform from the hepatocyte canalicular membrane in transport-deficient mutant rats. This altered lack of cMrp is the basis for the hereditary detect of the hepatobiliary excretion of anionic conjugates in the mutant animals (13). The absence of this canalicular Mrp in the mutants is analogous to the defect in the human Dubin-Johnson syndrome which is characterized by an impaired excretion of conjugated anions across the canalicular membrane.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / chemistry
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Anion Transport Proteins
  • Bile / metabolism
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple / physiology*
  • Etoposide / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Humans
  • Leukotriene C4 / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Transfection / genetics


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Anion Transport Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Leukotriene C4
  • Etoposide