P-glycoprotein (MDR1, ABCB1) is an ATP-dependent efflux transporter of a large variety of compounds. To understand P-glycoprotein in more detail, it is important to elucidate its activity in the cellular ensemble as well as in plasma membrane vesicles (under conditions where other ATP dependent proteins are blocked). We measured P-glycoprotein activity in inside-out vesicles formed from plasma membranes of MDR1-transfected mouse embryo fibroblasts (NIH-MDR1-G185) for comparison with previous measurements of P-glycoprotein activity in living NIH-MDR1-G185 cells. In plasma membrane vesicles activity was measured by monitoring phosphate release upon ATP hydrolysis and in living cells by monitoring the extracellular acidification rate upon ATP synthesis via glycolysis. P-glycoprotein was stimulated as a function of the concentration with 19 structurally different drugs, including local anesthetics, cyclic peptides, and cytotoxic drugs. The concentrations of half-maximum P-glycoprotein activation, K1, were identical in inside-out plasma membrane vesicles and in living cells and covered a broad range of concentrations (K1 approximately (10(-8)-10(-3)) M). The influence of the pH, drug association, and vesicle aggregation on the concentration of half-maximum P-glycoprotein activation was investigated. The turnover numbers in plasma membrane vesicles and in living cells were also approximately identical if the latter were measured in the presence of pyruvate. However, in the absence of pyruvate they were higher in living cells. The rate of ATP hydrolysis/ATP synthesis decreased exponentially with decreasing free energy of drug binding from water to the transporter, DeltaG0(tw)(1) (or increasing binding affinity). This suggests that drug release from the transmembrane domains has to occur before ATP is hydrolyzed for resetting the transporter
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