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Biochem Pharmacol. 2017 Nov 1;143:53-64. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2017.07.014. Epub 2017 Jul 17.

Global alteration of the drug-binding pocket of human P-glycoprotein (ABCB1) by substitution of fifteen conserved residues reveals a negative correlation between substrate size and transport efficiency.

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Laboratory of Cell Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-4256, USA.
Laboratory of Cell Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-4256, USA. Electronic address:


P-glycoprotein (P-gp), an ATP-dependent efflux pump, is linked to the development of multidrug resistance in cancer cells. However, the drug-binding sites and translocation pathways of this transporter are not yet well-characterized. We recently demonstrated the important role of tyrosine residues in regulating P-gp ATP hydrolysis via hydrogen bond formations with high affinity modulators. Since tyrosine is both a hydrogen bond donor and acceptor, and non-covalent interactions are key in drug transport, in this study we investigated the global effect of enrichment of tyrosine residues in the drug-binding pocket on the drug binding and transport function of P-gp. By employing computational analysis, 15 conserved residues in the drug-binding pocket of human P-gp that interact with substrates were identified and then substituted with tyrosine, including 11 phenylalanine (F72, F303, F314, F336, F732, F759, F770, F938, F942, F983, F994), two leucine (L339, L975), one isoleucine (I306), and one methionine (M949). Characterization of the tyrosine-rich P-gp mutant in HeLa cells demonstrated that this major alteration in the drug-binding pocket by introducing fifteen additional tyrosine residues is well tolerated and has no measurable effect on total or cell surface expression of this mutant. Although the tyrosine-enriched mutant P-gp could transport small to moderate size (<1000 Daltons) fluorescent substrates, its ability to transport large (>1000 Daltons) substrates such as NBD-cyclosporine A, Bodipy-paclitaxel and Bodipy-vinblastine was significantly decreased. This was further supported by the physico-chemical characterization of seventeen tested substrates, which revealed a negative correlation between drug transport and molecular size for the tyrosine-enriched P-gp mutant.


3,3′-Diethyoxacyanine iodide (PubChem CID: 16204983); ABC transporter; Calcein-AM (PubChem CID: 4126474); Cancer chemotherapy; Cyclosporine A (PubChem CID: 5284373); Daunorubicin (PubChem CID: 30323); Dihydrorhodamine 123 (PubChem CID: 105032); Drug transport; Multidrug resistance; P-glycoprotein; Paclitaxel (PubChem CID: 36314); Rhodamine 123 (PubChem CID: 65217); Tetramethylrhodamine (PubChem CID: 155483); Verapamil (PubChem CID: 62969); Vinblastine (PubChem CID: 241903)

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