ABC Transporters, Drug Resistance, and Cancer Stem Cells

Article

Abstract

The protection of the body’s stem cells from damage or death due to toxins is a critical function of an organism, as the stem cells need to remain intact for the entire life of the organism. One of the principal mechanisms for protecting stem cells is through the expression of multifunctional efflux transporters from the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) gene family. These same transporters have been known for over 25 years to also play a role in multidrug resistance of tumor cells. An exciting outcome of the concept of the cancer stem cell is that the tumor initiating cell may be innately resistant to many standard therapies. This provides one mechanism in which cancer stem cells could survive cytotoxic or targeted therapies and lead to tumor regrowth or relapse. Gaining a better insight into the mechanisms of stem cell resistance to chemotherapy might therefore lead to new therapeutic targets and better anti-cancer strategies.

Keywords

ATP-binding cassette transporters Cancer stem cell Multidrug resistance Estrogen Aromatase EGF receptor Transport inhibitors 

Abbreviations

ABC

ATP-binding cassette

EGF

epidermal growth factor

TM

transmembrane

NBFs

nucleotide binding folds

MDR

multidrug resistant

SP

side population

CML

chronic myelogenous leukemia

ALL

acute lymphoblastic leukemia

TKI

tyrosine kinase inhibitor

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Experimental Immunology, Cancer and Inflammation ProgramNational Cancer InstituteFrederickUSA

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