Subcellular Detection and Localization of the Drug Transporter P-Glycoprotein in Cultured Tumor Cells
A. Molinari, A. Calcabrini, S. Meschini, A. Stringaro, P. Crateri, L. Toccacieli, M. Marra, M. Colone, M. Cianfriglia and G. Arancia
Affiliation: Laboratorio di Ultrastrutture, Istituto Superiore di Sanita, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161 Rome, Italy
In vitro studies on the cellular location of P-glycoprotein (Pgp) are reported with the aim to clarify the relationship between its intracellular expression and the multidrug resistance (MDR) level of tumor cells. Pgp was found abnormally expressed on the plasma membrane of tumor cells with “classical” MDR phenotype. However, Pgp was also often detected on the nuclear envelope and on the membrane of cytoplasmic organelles. The hypothesis that this drug pump maintains a transport function when located in these compartments, is still under debating. Our results, together with those obtained by other researchers, demonstrate that cytoplasmic Pgp regulates the intracellular traffic of drugs so that they are no more able to reach their cellular targets. In particular, we revealed that in MDR breast cancer cells (MCF-7) a significant level of Pgp was expressed in the Golgi apparatus. A similar result was found in human melanoma cell lines, which never undergone cytotoxic drug treatment and did not express the transporter molecule on the plasma membrane. A strict relationship between intracellular Pgp and intrinsic resistance was demonstrated in a human colon carcinoma (LoVo) clone, which did not express the drug transporter on the plasma membrane. Finally, a structural and functional association between Pgp and ERM proteins has been discovered in drug-resistant human T- lymphobastoid cells (CEM-VBL 100). Our findings strongly suggest a pivotal role of the intracytoplasmic Pgp in the transport of drugs into cytoplasmic vesicles, thus actively contributing to their sequestration and transport outwards the cells. Thus, intracellular Pgp seems to represent a complementary protective mechanism of tumor cells against cytotoxic agents.
Keywords: P-Glycoprotein, Tumor Cells
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