We have transfected a eukaryotic expression vector containing a mdr1 complementary DNA isolated from normal human liver into human BRO melanoma cells to study the drug-resistant phenotype produced by the exclusive overexpression of normal human mdr1 P-glycoprotein. The drug resistance pattern of mdr1-transfected clones includes relatively high resistance to gramicidin D (about 300-fold), vincristine (about 100-fold), and actinomycin D (about 100-fold) and a lower degree of resistance to doxorubicin (about 10-fold), VP16-213 (about 10-fold), and colchicine (about 6-fold). The transfectants did not exhibit resistance to trimetrexate, cis-platinum, mitomycin C, 1-β-d-arabinofuranosylcytosine, bleomycin, G418, or magainin-2-amide; they were slightly more sensitive to verapamil (2-fold) but not to Triton X-100. As in other multidrug-resistant cell lines, resistance to vincristine could be reversed by verapamil and, more effectively, by cyclosporin A. Chloroquine only marginally increased drug sensitivity in mdr1-transfected cells. Gramicidin D resistance was also reversed by verapamil, suggesting that the mechanism of resistance to this polypeptide antibiotic is similar to that of other drugs transported by P-glycoprotein. Thus, expression of the wild-type mdr1 complementary DNA induces a drug-resistant phenotype similar to that induced by mdr1 complementary DNAs isolated from drug-resistant cell lines with relatively low colchicine resistance. As other cell lines may display a different pattern of drug resistance, it is clear that other resistance mechanisms or cell type-specific factors may modulate the resistance. mdr1-transfected cell lines provide a convenient tool for the identification of P-glycoprotein-mediated phenomena.

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This work was supported in part by Grant NKI 88-6 of The Netherlands Cancer Foundation to P. B.

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