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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Apr;87(7):2443-7.

Expression of recombinant glutathione S-transferase pi, Ya, or Yb1 confers resistance to alkylating agents.

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  • 1McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706.


Increased levels of glutathione S-transferase (GST; RX:glutathione R-transferase; EC mRNA, protein, and activity in tumor biopsy samples and in drug-resistant cultured cells are associated with resistance to anticancer drugs. We report that each of three full-length cloned GST cDNAs, that for pi (acidic), Ya (basic), and Yb1 (neutral), can confer drug resistance when expressed in cultured mammalian cells. In one approach, stably transfected mouse C3H/10T1/2 cells that express GST pi, Ya, or Yb1 were cloned and analyzed for drug resistance in colony-forming assays. Transiently transfected COS cells that were sorted on a fluorescence-activated cell sorter were used in the second approach to avoid interclonal variation in factors other than the recombinant GST and to show that reversion of transient GST expression correlated with loss of drug resistance. A sorting technique, developed to separate the 20% of the electroporated COS cell population that transiently expressed GST pi, Ya, or Yb1 from the nonexpressing population, was based on a GST-catalyzed intracellular conjugation of glutathione to the fluorescent labeling reagent monochlorobimane. GST Ya conferred the greatest increase in resistance to chlorambucil and melphalan (1.3- to 2.9-fold), Yb1 conferred the greatest increase in resistance to cisplatin (1.5-fold), and pi conferred the greatest increase in resistance to a racemic mixture of 7 beta,8 alpha-dihydroxy-9 alpha,10 alpha-epoxy-7,8,9,10-tetrahydrobenzo[a] pyrene and 7 alpha,8 beta-dihydroxy-9 beta,10 beta-epoxy-7,8,9,10-tetrahydrobenzo [a]pyrene and doxorubicin (1.5- and 1.3-fold) relative to controls. These resistance values to alkylating agents are commensurate with values observed clinically. Cytotoxicity curves representing recombinant GST+ populations were significantly different from their controls with P values ranging from 0.005 to 0.0001. No resistance to vinblastine was detected. Conferred drug resistance was proportional to the magnitude of GST Ya expression, and reversion of transient expression in GST Ya+ COS cell clones to a GST Ya- phenotype was associated with total loss of drug resistance.

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