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Gen Pharmacol. 1996 Dec;27(8):1283-91.

The P-glycoprotein multidrug transporter.

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INSERM U 49, Unité de Recherches Hépatologiques, Hôpital de Pontchaillou, Rennes, France.


1. P-glycoprotein (P-gp) is a transmembrane protein involved in ATP-dependent efflux of various structurally unrelated anticancer drugs. Its overexpression in cancer cells decreases intracellular drug concentrations and, thus, confers a multidrug resistance phenotype. 2. P-gp is encoded by MDR genes, which constitute a small gene family comprising two genes in humans and three genes in rodents. Only the MDR1 gene in humans and mdr1 and mdr3 genes in rodents have been demonstrated to be involved in drug resistance. 3. P-gp encoded by the human MDR1 gene is a phosphorylated and glycosylated protein 1289 amino acids long, and consists of 2 halves that share a high degree of similarity. 4. A wide variety of cancers have been shown to express P-gp, including solid tumors and hematological malignancies. This P-gp positivity can be evidenced at the time of diagnosis prior to chemotherapy or at relapse after treatment, and has been correlated with treatment failure and poor prognosis in several types of cancer. In addition, P-gp is also expressed by some normal tissues, such as liver and kidney. 5. P-gp expression is regulated by various factors, including xenobiotics and hormones. 6. P-gp-mediated multidrug resistance can be reversed by various unrelated compounds called chemosensitizers or reversing agents. These drugs act through inhibition of P-gp function and have entered clinical trials.

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