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Nature. 1986 Dec 4-10;324(6096):485-9.

Homology between P-glycoprotein and a bacterial haemolysin transport protein suggests a model for multidrug resistance.


Increased expression of P-glycoprotein, a plasma membrane glycoprotein of relative molecular mass (Mr) 170,000 (170K), occurs in a wide variety of cell lines that exhibit pleiotropic resistance to unrelated drugs. The presence of P-glycoprotein in human cancers refractory to chemotherapy suggests that tumour cells with multidrug resistance can arise during malignant progression. We have discovered striking homology between P-glycoprotein and the HlyB protein, a 66K Escherichia coli membrane protein required for the export of haemolysin (protein of Mr 107K). P-glycoprotein can be viewed as a tandem duplication of the HlyB protein. The hydropathy profiles of the two proteins are similar and reveal an extensive transmembrane region resembling those found in pore-forming plasma membrane proteins. The C-terminal region of P-glycoprotein and the HlyB protein contain sequences homologous to the nucleotide-binding domains of a group of closely related bacterial ATP-binding proteins. We propose a model for multidrug resistance in which P-glycoprotein functions as an energy-dependent export pump to reduce intracellular levels of anticancer drugs.

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