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Cancers are frequently chemoresistant because of overexpression of P-glycoprotein. Two different approaches to improve cancer treatment are currently being investigated in clinical trials: inhibition of P-glycoprotein function by reversing agents, and alleviation of leukocytopenia by MDR1 gene transfer to normal bone marrow of patients. We report here that retroviral vectors encoding a mutant P-glycoprotein (MDR1-F983A) protect hematopoietic cells from anticancer drugs even in the presence of trans-(E)-flupentixol, an inhibitor of P-glycoprotein. Transfer of either mutant or wild-type MDR1 to K562 erythroleukemia cells or primary murine bone marrow resulted in reduced accumulation of daunomycin and vinblastine because of increased drug efflux.trans-(E)-Flupentixol at concentrations up to 10 microM failed to reverse drug efflux mediated by the product of the mutant MDR1 while wild-type P-glycoprotein was inhibited. In the presence of 2 microM trans-(E)-flupentixol chemoresistance to daunomycin was circumvented only in K562 cells transduced with wild-type, but not with mutant, MDR1. Moreover, drug resistance of KB-8-5 epidermoid cancer cells, which express the wild-type MDR1 gene at levels comparable to clinical specimens from multidrug-resistant cancers, was fully overcome in the presence of trans-(E)-flupentixol. Vectors expressing mutant P-glycoprotein may help improve chemotherapy by allowing safe dose intensification under conditions in which multidrug-resistant cancers are rendered drug sensitive by reversing agents.


P Hafkemeyer, T Licht, I Pastan, M M Gottesman. Chemoprotection of hematopoietic cells by a mutant P-glycoprotein resistant to a potent chemosensitizer of multidrug-resistant cancers. Human gene therapy. 2000 Mar 1;11(4):555-65

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PMID: 10724034

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