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Cancer Lett. 2009 Jul 18;280(1):110-9. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2009.02.023. Epub 2009 Mar 18.

Small interfering RNA targeting the subunit ATP6L of proton pump V-ATPase overcomes chemoresistance of breast cancer cells.

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National Laboratory for Oncogenes and Related Genes, Cancer Institute, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, No. 25/2200 Xietu Road, Shanghai 200032, PR China.


One of the mechanisms of multiple drug resistance (MDR) is inappropriate sequestration of basic chemotherapeutic agents in acidic endo-lysosomes of cells. The protonation, sequestration, and secretion (PSS) model indicates that drug distribution can be affected by intracellular pH such as lysosomal pH. The vacuolar-H(+)-ATPase (V-ATPase) plays an important role in regulation of intracellular pH by pumping protons into acidic endosomes via an ATP-driven process. In this study, ATP6L, the 16kDa subunit of V-ATPase, was knocked-down by anti-ATP6L small interfering RNA (siRNA) to study the effect on chemosensitivity in the human drug-resistant breast cancer cells MCF-7/ADR. Introduction of anti-ATP6L small interfering RNA duplex into drug-resistant cancer cells significantly inhibited the expression of ATP6L mRNA and protein, as detected by qRT-PCR and Western blot. Inhibition of ATP6L expression by siRNA in MCF-7/ADR sensitized the cells to the cytotoxicity of basic chemotherapeutic agents like doxorobicin, 5-fluorourocil and vincristine. This effect was mediated by a significant increase in lysosomal pH and retention of anticancer drugs into nuclei of cells. These results support the role of tumor acidity in resistance to chemotherapy and provide a rationale for the use of tumor pH modifier agents as coadjuvants in novel anticancer therapies.

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