Multidrug resistance in cancer chemotherapy and xenobiotic protection mediated by the half ATP-binding cassette transporter ABCG2

B. Han, Jian T. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

65 Scopus citations


ABCG2, also termed BCRP/MXR/ABCP, is a half ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter expressed on plasma membranes. ABCG2 was independently cloned from placenta as well as cell lines selected for resistance to mitoxantrone or anthracyclines. ABCG2 consists of a nucleotide-binding domain (NBD) at the amino terminus and a transmembrane domain (TMD) at the carboxyl terminus and it is postulated to form a homodimer to perform its biological functions. Over-expression of ABCG2 in cell lines confers resistance on a wide variety of anticancer drugs including mitoxantrone, daunorubicin, doxorubicin, topotecan and epirubicin. The expression of ABCG2 has been implicated in multidrug resistance (MDR) of acute myeloid leukemia and some solid tumors. In addition, ABCG2 can transport several fluorescent dyes or toxins. ABCG2 is found to be expressed in epithelial cells of intestine and colon, liver canaliculi, and renal tubules, where it serves to eliminate the plasma level of orally administered anticancer drugs as well as ingested toxins. ABCG2 is found to be highly expressed in placenta and the luminal surface of microvessel endothelium blood-brain barrier where it may play a role in limiting the penetration of drugs, such as topotecan from the maternal plasma into the fetus and from blood to brain. A variety of inhibitors for ABCG2 including GF120918 may prove useful for sensitizing cancer cells to chemotherapy or altering the distribution of orally administered drug substrates of ABCG2. Interestingly, ABCG2 is also expressed highly in hematopoietic stem cells. However, the function of ABCG2 in stem cells is currently unknown, although it may provide protection to stem cells from a variety of xenobiotics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-42
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Medicinal Chemistry - Anti-Cancer Agents
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 26 2004


  • ABC transporter
  • ABCG2
  • Anthracycline
  • Dimer
  • Hormone
  • Inhibitor
  • MDR
  • Polymorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Cancer Research
  • Pharmacology

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