P-glycoprotein (Pgp; ABCB1/MDR1) is a major efflux transporter at the blood-brain barrier (BBB), restricting the penetration of various compounds. In other tissues, trafficking of Pgp from subcellular stores to the cell surface has been demonstrated and may constitute a rapid way of the cell to respond to toxic compounds by functional membrane insertion of the transporter. It is not known whether drug-induced Pgp trafficking also occurs in brain capillary endothelial cells that form the BBB. In this study, trafficking of Pgp was investigated in human brain capillary endothelial cells (hCMEC/D3) that were stably transfected with a doxycycline-inducible MDR1-EGFP fusion plasmid. In the presence of doxycycline, these cells exhibited a 15-fold increase in Pgp-EGFP fusion protein expression, which was associated with an increased efflux of the Pgp substrate rhodamine 123 (Rho123). The chemotherapeutic agent mitomycin C (MMC) was used to study drug-induced trafficking of Pgp. Confocal fluorescence microscopy of single hCMEC/D3-MDR1-EGFP cells revealed that Pgp redistribution from intracellular pools to the cell surface occurred within 2 h of MMC exposure. Pgp-EGFP exhibited a punctuate pattern at the cell surface compatible with concentrated regions of the fusion protein in membrane microdomains, i.e., lipid rafts, which was confirmed by Western blot analysis of biotinylated cell surface proteins in Lubrol-resistant membranes. MMC exposure also increased the functionality of Pgp as assessed in three functional assays with Pgp substrates (Rho123, eFluxx-ID Gold, calcein-AM). However, this increase occurred with some delay after the increased Pgp expression and coincided with the release of Pgp from the Lubrol-resistant membrane complexes. Disrupting rafts by depleting the membrane of cholesterol increased the functionality of Pgp. Our data present the first direct evidence of drug-induced Pgp trafficking at the human BBB and indicate that Pgp has to be released from lipid rafts to gain its full functionality. © 2014 Noack et al.
Noack, A., Noack, S., Hoffmann, A., Maalouf, K., Buettner, M., Couraud, P. O., … Löscher, W. (2014). Drug-induced trafficking of P-glycoprotein in human brain capillary endothelial cells as demonstrated by exposure to mitomycin C. PLoS ONE, 9(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0088154