Previous studies have demonstrated that mitomycin C (MMC) and other DNA cross-linking agents can suppress MDR1 (multidrug resistance 1) gene expression and subsequent functional P-glycoprotein (Pgp) expression, whereas doxorubicin and other anthracyclines increase MDR1 gene expression. In the present study, with stably transfected Madin–Darby canine kidney C7 epithelial cells expressing a human Pgp tagged with green fluorescent protein under the proximal human MDR1 gene promoter, we demonstrated that MMC and doxorubicin have differential effects on Pgp expression and function. Doxorubicin caused a progressive increase in the cell-surface expression of Pgp and function. In contrast, MMC initially increased plasma membrane expression and function at a time when total cellular Pgp was constant and Pgp mRNA expression had been shown to be suppressed. This was followed by a rapid and sustained decrease in cell-surface expression at later times, presumably as a consequence of the initial decrease in mRNA expression. These studies imply that there are at least two independent chemosensitive steps that can alter Pgp biogenesis: one at the level of mRNA transcription and the other at the level of Pgp trafficking. Understanding the combined consequences of these two mechanisms might lead to novel chemotherapeutic approaches to overcoming drug resistance in human cancers by altering either Pgp mRNA expression or trafficking to the membrane.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Present address: Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-6401, U.S.A.