Drug Transporters

Volume 201 of the series Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology pp 299-323


Multidrug Resistance Proteins (MRPs, ABCCs): Importance for Pathophysiology and Drug Therapy

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The nine multidrug resistance proteins (MRPs) represent the major part of the 12 members of the MRP/CFTR subfamily belonging to the 48 human ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters. Cloning, functional characterization, and cellular localization of most MRP subfamily members have identified them as ATP-dependent efflux pumps with a broad substrate specificity for the transport of endogenous and xenobiotic anionic substances localized in cellular plasma membranes. Prototypic substrates include glutathione conjugates such as leukotriene C4 for MRP1, MRP2, and MRP4, bilirubin glucuronosides for MRP2 and MRP3, and cyclic AMP and cyclic GMP for MRP4, MRP5, and MRP8. Reduced glutathione (GSH), present in living cells at millimolar concentrations, modifies the substrate specificities of several MRPs, as exemplified by the cotransport of vincristine with GSH by MRP1, or by the cotransport of GSH with bile acids or of GSH with leukotriene B4 by MRP4.

The role of MRP subfamily members in pathophysiology may be illustrated by the MRP-mediated release of proinflammatory and immunomodulatory mediators such as leukotrienes and prostanoids. Pathophysiological consequences of many genetic variants leading to a lack of functional MRP protein in the plasma membrane are observed in the hereditary MRP2 deficiency associated with conjugated hyperbilirubinemia in Dubin-Johnson syndrome, in pseudoxanthoma elasticum due to mutations in the MRP6 (ABCC6) gene, or in the type of human earwax and osmidrosis determined by single nucleotide polymorphisms in the MRP8 (ABCC8) gene. The hepatobiliary and renal elimination of many drugs and their metabolites is mediated by MRP2 in the hepatocyte canalicular membrane and by MRP4 as well as MRP2 in the luminal membrane of kidney proximal tubules. Therefore, inhibition of these efflux pumps affects pharmacokinetics, unless compensated by other ATP-dependent efflux pumps with overlapping substrate specificities.


ABCC subfamily ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters ATP-dependent efflux Bilirubin glucuronosides Cyclic AMP Cyclic GMP Dubin-Johnson syndrome Earwax (human) Hyperbilirubinemia Leukotriene B4 Leukotriene C4 MRP1 MRP2 MRP3 MRP4 MRP5 MRP8 Multidrug resistance proteins (MRPs) Osmidrosis Prostanoids Pseudoxanthoma elasticum Radixin Tissue distribution