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Eur J Biochem. 2001 Mar;268(6):1687-97.

Drug transport by reconstituted P-glycoprotein in proteoliposomes. Effect of substrates and modulators, and dependence on bilayer phase state.

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Guelph-Waterloo Centre for Graduate Work in Chemistry and Biochemistry, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


The P-glycoprotein multidrug transporter (Pgp) is an active efflux pump for chemotherapeutic drugs, natural products and hydrophobic peptides. Pgp is envisaged as a 'hydrophobic vacuum cleaner', and drugs are believed to gain access to the substrate binding sites from within the membrane, rather than from the aqueous phase. The intimate association of both Pgp and its substrates with the membrane suggests that its function may be regulated by the biophysical properties of the lipid bilayer. Using the high affinity fluorescent substrate tetramethylrosamine (TMR), we have monitored, in real time, transport in proteoliposomes containing reconstituted Pgp. The TMR concentration gradient generated by Pgp was collapsed by the addition of either the ATPase inhibitor, vanadate, or Pgp modulators. TMR transport by Pgp obeyed Michaelis--Menten kinetics with respect to both of its substrates. The Km for ATP was 0.48 mM, close to the K(m) for ATP hydrolysis, and the K(m) for TMR was 0.3 microM. TMR transport was inhibited in a concentration-dependent fashion by verapamil and cyclosporin A, and activated (probably by a positive allosteric effect) by the transport substrate colchicine. TMR transport by Pgp reconstituted into proteoliposomes composed of two synthetic phosphatidylcholines showed a highly unusual biphasic temperature dependence. The rate of TMR transport was relatively high in the rigid gel phase, reached a maximum at the melting temperature of the bilayer, and then decreased in the fluid liquid crystalline phase. This pattern of temperature dependence suggests that the rate of drug transport by Pgp may be dominated by partitioning of drug into the bilayer.

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