One of the characteristics of multidrug-resistant mammalian cells is the presence of a glycoprotein of approximately Mr 170,000 in their cell membrane. Termed P-glycoprotein, this glycoprotein is thought to be the gene product of an amplified gene cloned and sequenced from a cell line (LZ) which is highly resistant to Adriamycin and cross-resistant to actinomycin D, colchicine, and vincristine. Resistance to Adriamycin has been induced in sensitive cells by chromosome or gene transfer. We now show that P-glycoprotein isolated from LZ cells and fused to sensitive V79 Chinese hamster cells renders the latter transiently resistant to Adriamycin. Incorporation of P-glycoprotein was confirmed by immunoperoxidase staining of fusion products following treatment with antibody to P-glycoprotein and by Western blots of membrane preparations from fusion products. These results suggest that P-glycoprotein is one of the important factors in the expression of Adriamycin resistance and provide added confirmation that it may be the important product of gene amplification in multidrug-resistant cells. The results also suggest that the cell membrane may be one of several targets for Adriamycin cytotoxicity and that P-glycoprotein may be a binding site for Adriamycin, rendering the latter ineffective in registering sufficient membrane damage for cell killing.

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Supported by Research Grant CA-34269 from the National Cancer Institute.

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