Second-site suppressor mutations reveal connection between the drug-binding pocket and nucleotide-binding domain 1 of human P-glycoprotein (ABCB1)

Megumi Murakami, Andaleeb Sajid, Sabrina Lusvarghi, Stewart R. Durell, Biebele Abel, Shahrooz Vahedi, John Golin, Suresh V. Ambudkar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Human P-glycoprotein (P-gp) or ABCB1 is overexpressed in many cancers and has been implicated in altering the bioavailability of chemotherapeutic drugs due to their efflux, resulting in the development of chemoresistance. To elucidate the mechanistic aspects and structure-function relationships of P-gp, we previously utilized a tyrosine (Y)-enriched P-gp mutant (15Y) and demonstrated that at least 15 conserved residues in the drug-binding pocket of P-gp are responsible for optimal substrate interaction and transport. To further understand the role of these 15 residues, two new mutants were generated, namely 6Y with the substitution of six residues (F72, F303, I306, F314, F336 and L339) with Y in transmembrane domain (TMD) 1 and 9Y with nine substitutions (F732, F759, F770, F938, F942, M949, L975, F983 and F994) in TMD2. Although both the mutants were expressed at normal levels at the cell surface, the 6Y mutant failed to transport all the tested substrates except Bodipy-verapamil, whereas the 9Y mutant effluxed all tested substrates in a manner very similar to that of the wild-type protein. Further mutational analysis revealed that two second-site mutations, one in intracellular helix (ICH) 4 (F916Y) and one in the Q loop of nucleotide-binding domain (NBD) 1 (F480Y) restored the transport function of 6Y. Additional biochemical data and comparative molecular dynamics simulations of the 6Y and 6Y+F916Y mutant indicate that the Q-loop of NBD1 of P-gp communicates with the substrate-binding sites in the transmembrane region through ICH4. This is the first evidence for the existence of second-site suppressors in human P-gp that allow recovery of the loss of transport function caused by primary mutations. Further study of such mutations could facilitate mapping of the communication pathway between the substrate-binding pocket and the NBDs of P-gp and possibly other ABC drug transporters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101009
JournalDrug Resistance Updates
StatePublished - Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • ABC transporter
  • Molecular dynamics simulations
  • Multidrug resistance
  • P-glycoprotein
  • Second-site suppressors


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