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Breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP) is a half-molecule ATP-binding cassette transporter that pumps out various anticancer agents such as 7-ethyl-10-hydroxycamptothecin, topotecan and mitoxantrone. We have previously identified three polymorphisms within the BCRP gene, G34A (substituting Met for Val-12), C376T (substituting a stop codon for Gln-126) and C421A (substituting Lys for Gln-141). C421A BCRP-transfected murine fibroblast PA317 cells showed markedly decreased protein expression and low-level drug resistance when compared with wild-type BCRP-transfected cells. In contrast, G34A BCRP-transfected PA317 cells showed a similar protein expression and drug resistance profile to wild-type. The C376T polymorphism would be expected to have a considerable impact as active BCRP protein will not be expressed from a T376 allele. Hence, people with C376T and/or C421A polymorphisms may express low levels of BCRP, resulting in hypersensitivity of normal cells to BCRP-substrate anticancer agents. Estrogens, estrone and 17beta-estradiol, were previously found to restore drug sensitivity levels in BCRP-transduced cells by increasing the cellular accumulation of anticancer agents. BCRP transports sulfated estrogens but not free estrogens and in a series of screening experiments for synthesized and natural estrogenic compounds, several tamoxifen derivatives and phytoestrogens/flavonoids were identified that effectively circumvent BCRP-mediated drug resistance. The kinase inhibitors gefitinib and imatinib mesylate also interact with BCRP. Gefitinib, an inhibitor of epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase, inhibits its transporter function and reverses BCRP-mediated drug resistance both in vitro and in vivo. BCRP-transfected human epidermoid carcinoma A431 cells and BCRP-transfected human non-small cell lung cancer PC-9 cells show gefitinib resistance. Imatinib, an inhibitor of BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase, also inhibits BCRP-mediated drug transport. Hence, both functional SNPs and inhibitors of BCRP reduce its transporter function and thus modulate substrate pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.


Kae Yanase, Satomi Tsukahara, Junko Mitsuhashi, Yoshikazu Sugimoto. Functional SNPs of the breast cancer resistance protein-therapeutic effects and inhibitor development. Cancer letters. 2006 Mar 8;234(1):73-80

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PMID: 16303243

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