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Cancer Res. 2004 Feb 1;64(3):1102-9.

A genome-wide screen in Saccharomyces cerevisiae reveals altered transport as a mechanism of resistance to the anticancer drug bleomycin.

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  • 1University of Montreal, Guy-Bernier Research Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


The potent DNA damaging agent bleomycin (BLM) is highly effective for treating various cancers, although, in certain individuals, the development of cellular resistance to the drug can severely diminish its antineoplastic properties. We performed two independent genome-wide screens using a Saccharomyces cerevisiae mutant collection to isolate variants exhibiting either sensitivity or resistance to BLM. This procedure reproducibly identified a relatively large collection of 231 BLM-hypersensitive mutants, representing genes belonging to diverse functional groups. In contrast, only five BLM-resistant mutants could be recovered by our screens. Among these latter mutants, three were deleted for genes involved in plasma membrane transport, including the L-carnitine transporter Agp2, as well as the kinases Ptk2 and Sky1, which are involved in regulating polyamine transport. We further showed that Agp2 acts as a transporter of BLM and that overexpression of this transporter significantly enhances BLM-induced cell killing. Our data strongly implicate membrane transport as a key determinant in BLM resistance in yeast. This finding is critical, given that very little is known about BLM transport in human cells. Indeed, characterization of analogous mechanisms in humans may ultimately lead to enhancement of the antitumor properties of BLM.

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