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J Bioenerg Biomembr. 2005 Dec;37(6):489-96.

The remarkable transport mechanism of P-glycoprotein: a multidrug transporter.

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Department of Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics, University of Virginia Health System, P.O. Box 800736, Charlottesville, Virginia, 22908-0736, USA.


Human P-glycoprotein (ABCB1) is a primary multidrug transporter located in plasma membranes, that utilizes the energy of ATP hydrolysis to pump toxic xenobiotics out of cells. P-glycoprotein employs a most unusual molecular mechanism to perform this drug transport function. Here we review our work to elucidate the molecular mechanism of drug transport by P-glycoprotein. High level heterologous expression of human P-glycoprotein, in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, has facilitated biophysical studies in purified proteoliposome preparations. Development of novel spin-labeled transport substrates has allowed for quantitative and rigorous measurements of drug transport in real time by EPR spectroscopy. We have developed a new drug transport model of P-glycoprotein from the results of mutagenic, quantitative thermodynamic and kinetic studies. This model satisfactorily accounts for most of the unusual kinetic, coupling, and physiological features of P-glycoprotein. Additionally, an atomic detail structural model of P-glycoprotein has been devised to place our results within a proper structural context.

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