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Br J Cancer. 2001 Oct 19;85(8):1175-84.

Cross-talk between signalling pathways and the multidrug resistant protein MDR-1.

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Biomedical Research Centre, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, DD1 9SY, UK.


The multidrug resistant protein MDR-1 has been associated with the resistance to a wide range of anti-cancer drugs. Taxol is a substrate for this transporter system and is used in the treatment of a wide range of human malignancies including lung, breast and ovarian cancer. We have generated a series of ovarian cell lines resistant to this compound, all of which overexpress MDR-1 through gene amplification. We present novel evidence that a constitutive activation of the ERK1/2 MAP kinase pathway was also observed although the level of active JNK and p38 remained unchanged. Inhibition of the ERK1/2 MAP kinase pathway using UO126 or PD098059 re-sensitised the Taxol resistant cells at least 20-fold. Importantly, when Mdr-1 cDNA was stably expressed in the wild-type cell line to generate a highly Taxol-resistant sub-line, 1847/MDR5, ERK1/2 MAP kinases again became activated. This result demonstrated that the increased activity of the signalling pathway in the Taxol-resistant lines was directly attributable to MDR-1 overexpression and was not due to the effects of Taxol itself. Additionally, we demonstrated that inhibition of the P13K pathway with LY294002 sensitised the MDR-1-expressing 1847/TX0.5 cells and 1847/MDR5 cells at least 10-fold but had no effect in the wild-type cells. This finding suggests a possible role for this pathway, also, in the generation of resistance to Taxol.

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