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EMBO J. 1993 Apr;12(4):1615-20.

The expression of two P-glycoprotein (pgp) genes in transgenic Caenorhabditis elegans is confined to intestinal cells.

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  • 1Laboratory of Biochemistry, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


P-glycoproteins can cause multidrug resistance in mammalian tumor cells by active extrusion of cytotoxic drugs. The natural function of these evolutionarily conserved, membrane-bound ATP binding transport proteins is unknown. In mammals, P-glycoproteins are abundantly present in organs associated with the digestive tract. We have studied the tissue-specific expression of Caenorhabditis elegans P-glycoprotein genes pgp-1 and pgp-3 by transformation of nematodes with pgp-lacZ gene fusion constructs in which the promoter area of the pgp genes was fused to the coding region of lacZ. Expression of pgp-1 and pgp-3, as inferred from pgp-lacZ transgenic nematodes, was confined to the intestinal cells. The expression patterns of both genes were virtually indistinguishable. Quantitative analysis of pgp mRNA levels during development showed that pgp-1, -2, and -3 were expressed throughout the life cycle of C.elegans, albeit with some variation indicating developmental regulation. The expression of P-glycoprotein genes in intestinal cells is an evolutionarily conserved feature of these genes, consistent with the hypothesis that P-glycoproteins provide a mechanism of protection against environmental toxins.

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