Targeting intracellular P-glycoprotein in lysosomes to overcome drug resistance: The tumor microenvironment promotes anti-cancer activity of novel drugs
Prof. Des R. Richardson
Department of Pathology and Bosch Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
P-glycoprotein (Pgp) is functional on the plasma membrane and lysosomal membrane. Lysosomal-Pgp can pump substrates into the organelle, thereby trapping certain chemotherapeutics (e.g. doxorubicin; DOX). This mechanism serves as a "safe house" to protect cells against cytotoxic drugs. Interestingly, in contrast to DOX, lysosomal sequestration of the novel anti-tumor agent and Pgp substrate, di-2-pyridylketone-4,4-dimethyl-3-thiosemicarbazone (Dp44mT), induces lysosomal membrane permeabilization. This mechanism of lysosomal-Pgp utilization enhances cytotoxicity to multidrug-resistant cells. Consequently, Dp44mT has greater anti-tumor activity in drug-resistant relative to non-Pgp-expressing tumors.
Interestingly, stressors in the tumor microenvironment trigger endocytosis for cell signaling to assist cell survival. Hence, we examined how glucose variation-induced stress regulated early endosome and lysosome formation via endocytosis of the plasma membrane. Furthermore, the impact of glucose variation-induced stress on resistance to DOX was compared with Dp44mT and its structurally related analogue, di-2-pyridylketone 4-cyclohexyl-4-methyl-3-thiosemicarbazone (DpC). These studies showed that glucose variation-induced stress-stimulated formation of early endosomes and lysosomes. In fact, through the process of fluid-phase endocytosis, Pgp was redistributed from the plasma membrane to the lysosomal membrane via early endosome formation. This lysosomal-Pgp actively transported the Pgp substrate, DOX, into the lysosome where it became trapped as a result of protonation at pH 5. Due to increased lysosomal DOX trapping, Pgp-expressing cells became more resistant to DOX. In contrast, cytotoxicity of Dp44mT and DpC was potentiated due to more lysosomes containing functional Pgp under glucose-induced stress. These thiosemicarbazones increased lysosomal membrane permeabilization and cell death. This mechanism has critical implications for drug-targeting in multidrug-resistant tumors where a stressful micro-environment exists.