Altered plasma membrane ultrastructure in multidrug-resistant cells
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Multidrug resistance is mediated by P-glycoprotein, an integral plasma membrane component which is thought to function as a drug export pump. This model can explain drug resistance, but fails to account for the broader pleiotropy of the multidrug resistance phenotype. We report here a freeze-fracture study revealing increases in the densities of protoplasmic face intramembrane particles in multidrug-resistant Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) and human leukemic cells. The intramembrane particle density in a CHO cell revertant which had lost the characteristics of the multidrug resistance phenotype was indistinguishable from that of the drug-sensitive parental cell line. This demonstration of a global multidrug resistance-linked change in plasma membrane architecture may have significant implications for understanding the variety of concurrent membrane-related changes which are not easily explained by the current model for multidrug resistance.
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