ABC transporter (ATP-binding-cassette transporter) proteins have been strongly associated with the phenomenon of multidrug resistance in cancer cells. Furthermore, their physiological expression has been studied in many organisms, including bacteria, fungi, plants and vertebrate or invertebrate animals. Their widespread expression through the evolution demonstrates their relevance to the survival of living things. In the present study, we characterized the functional activity of ABCB1 and ABCC1 proteins in gametes and embryonic cells of the sea urchin Echinometra lucunter. The ABC transporter proteins' functional activity was up-regulated post-fertilization. Eggs and spermatozoa of E. lucunter accumulated more C-AM (calcein acetoxymethyl ester), a fluorescent substrate of ABCB1 and ABCC1 proteins, than embryonic cells. Verapamil, reversin 205 and indomethacin were able to increase C-AM influx in eggs and embryos. However, verapamil and reversin 205 were more efficient than indomethacin, suggesting a predominance of ABCB1 protein over ABCC1 protein activity. Multidrug resistance modulating agents, at the concentration range that inhibited ABC transporter proteins, did not block the embryonic development until blastula stage. However, inhibition of ABCB1-mediated efflux by reversin 205 circumvented resistance of embryos to the antimitotic vinca alkaloid vinblastine. Embryonic development was more efficiently blocked when colchicine was previously added to eggs than to embryos 5 min after fertilization. This set of results suggests that these proteins act as a fundamental biochemical barrier conferring a protective physiological role against toxic xenobiotics in E. lucunter embryos.

You do not currently have access to this content.