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Mol Pharm. 2014 Oct 6;11(10):3452-62. doi: 10.1021/mp500230b. Epub 2014 Aug 22.

Drug resistance is conferred on the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae by expression of full-length melanoma-associated human ATP-binding cassette transporter ABCB5.

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Sir John Walsh Research Institute and Department of Oral Sciences, University of Otago , P.O. Box 647, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand.


ABCB5, an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter, is highly expressed in melanoma cells, and may contribute to the extreme resistance of melanomas to chemotherapy by efflux of anti-cancer drugs. Our goal was to determine whether we could functionally express human ABCB5 in the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, in order to demonstrate an efflux function for ABCB5 in the absence of background pump activity from other human transporters. Heterologous expression would also facilitate drug discovery for this important target. DNAs encoding ABCB5 sequences were cloned into the chromosomal PDR5 locus of a S. cerevisiae strain in which seven endogenous ABC transporters have been deleted. Protein expression in the yeast cells was monitored by immunodetection using both a specific anti-ABCB5 antibody and a cross-reactive anti-ABCB1 antibody. ABCB5 function in recombinant yeast cells was measured by determining whether the cells possessed increased resistance to known pump substrates, compared to the host yeast strain, in assays of yeast growth. Three ABCB5 constructs were made in yeast. One was derived from the ABCB5-β mRNA, which is highly expressed in human tissues but is a truncation of a canonical full-size ABC transporter. Two constructs contained full-length ABCB5 sequences: either a native sequence from cDNA or a synthetic sequence codon-harmonized for S. cerevisiae. Expression of all three constructs in yeast was confirmed by immunodetection. Expression of the codon-harmonized full-length ABCB5 DNA conferred increased resistance, relative to the host yeast strain, to the putative substrates rhodamine 123, daunorubicin, tetramethylrhodamine, FK506, or clorgyline. We conclude that full-length ABCB5 can be functionally expressed in S. cerevisiae and confers drug resistance.


ABCB1; ABCB5; P-glycoprotein; drug resistance; human ABC transporters; melanoma

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