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Cancer Res. 2009 Jan 15;69(2):416-21. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-1856.

Reversal of P-glycoprotein-mediated multidrug resistance by the murine double minute 2 antagonist nutlin-3.

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Institut für Medizinische Virologie, Klinikum der JW Goethe-Universität, Klinikum der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Murine double minute 2 (MDM2) negatively regulates the activity of the tumor suppressor protein p53. Nutlin-3 is a MDM2 inhibitor under preclinical investigation as nongenotoxic activator of the p53 pathway for cancer therapy. Here, nutlin-3 was evaluated for its activity alone or in combination with established chemotherapeutic drugs for antitumor action in chemosensitive and chemoresistant neuroblastoma and rhabdomyosarcoma cell lines. Effects of nutlin-3 single treatment were much more pronounced in p53 wild-type cell lines (IC(50)s <3 micromol/L) than in p53-mutated cell lines (IC(50)s >17 micromol/L). In sharp contrast to the expectations, nutlin-3 concentrations that did not affect viability of p53-mutated cell lines strongly increased the efficacy of vincristine in p53-mutated, P-glycoprotein (P-gp)-overexpressing cell lines (decrease in IC(50)s 92- to 3,434-fold). Similar results were obtained for other P-gp substrates. Moreover, nutlin-3 reduced efflux of rhodamine 123 and other fluorescence dyes that are effluxed by P-gp. Investigation of Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) II cells stably transfected with plasmids encoding for P-gp (MDCKII MDR1) or multidrug resistance protein 1 (MRP-1, MDCKII MRP1) revealed that nutlin-3 not only interferes with P-gp but also affects MRP-1-mediated efflux. Kinetic studies and investigation of P-gp-ATPase activity showed that nutlin-3 is likely to act as a P-gp transport substrate. Examination of the nutlin-3 enantiomers nutlin-3a and nutlin-3b revealed that, in contrast to MDM2-inhibitory activity that is limited to nutlin-3a, both enantiomers similarly interfere with P-gp-mediated drug efflux. In conclusion, nutlin-3-induced inhibition of P-gp and MRP-1 was discovered as a novel anticancer mechanism of the substance in this report.

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