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AAPS PharmSci. 2002;4(3):E14.

Role of MRP4 and MRP5 in biology and chemotherapy.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN 38105, USA.


Nucleotide efflux (especially cyclic nucleotides) from a variety of mammalian tissues, bacteria, and lower eukaryotes has been studied for several decades. However, the molecular identity of these nucleotide efflux transporters remained elusive, despite extensive knowledge of their kinetic properties and inhibitor profiles. Identification of the subfamily of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) binding cassette transporters, multidrug resistance protein (MRP) subfamily, permitted rapid advances because some recently identified MRP family members transport modified nucleotide analogs (ie, chemotherapeutic agents). We first identified, MRP4, based on its ability to efflux antiretroviral compounds, such as azidothymidine monophosphate (AZT-MP) and 9-(2-phosphonyl methoxyethyl) adenine (PMEA), in drug-resistant and also in transfected cell lines. MRP5, a close structural homologue of MRP4 also transported PMEA. MRP4 and MRP5 confer resistance to cytotoxic thiopurine nucleotides, and we demonstrate MRP4 expression varies among acute lymphoblastic leukemias, suggesting this as a factor in response to chemotherapy with these agents. The ability of MRP4 and MRP5 to transport 3',5'-cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) and 3',5'-cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) suggests they may play a biological role in cellular signaling by these nucleotides. Finally, we propose that MRP4 may also play a role in hepatic bile acid homeostasis because loss of the main bile acid efflux transporter, sister of P-glycoprotein (SPGP) aka bile-salt export pump (BSEP), leads to a strong compensatory upregulation in MRP4 expression. Cumulatively, these studies reveal that the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters MRP4 and MRP5 have a unique role in biology and in chemotherapeutic response.

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