Multidrug Resistance in a Human Leukemic Cell Line Selected for Resistance to Trimetrexate

Hadara Arkin, Takao Ohnuma, James F. Holland, Shanker Vallabhajosula

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53 Scopus citations


Trimetrexate (TMQ) is a lipophilic antifolate shown to have antitumor activity in humans. TMQ-resistant sublines of the MOLT-3 human acute lymphoblastic leukemia cell line were developed and were designated as MOLT-3/TMQ200, MOLTO/TMQsoo, and MOLT-3/TMQ2500 based on degrees of resistance to TMQ. The TMQ resistance was accompanied by 5- to 7-fold increases in dihydrofolate reductase activity and markedly reduced cellular TMQ accumulation. Methotrexate accumulation was not impaired in TMQ-resistant cells. TMQ retention (efflux) was unchanged in these TMQ-resistant cells. Verapamil enhanced the TMQ accumulation in the resistant cells to the level seen in the parent cells but had no effects on the TMQ retention. These sublines were cross-resistant not only to methotrexate but also to vincristine, doxorubicin, daunorubicin, and mitoxantrone. There was no cross-resistance to bleomycin or cisplatin. Resistance to vincristine, doxorubicin, daunorubicin, and mitoxantrone was reversed by verapamil. TMQ resistance was only minimally reversed by verapamil and methotrexate resistance not affected at all. Both cellular accumulation and retention of vincristine and daunorubicin in the TMQ-resistant cells were markedly decreased. Verapamil enhanced both accumulation and retention of the drug. Plasma membrane fractions of the TMQ-resistant cells analyzed by urea-sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis followed by staining with Coomassie Blue revealed the presence of a distinct band with a molecular weight of 170, 000. Immunoblot analysis with 125I-labeled monoclonal antibody raised against P-glycoprotein of multidrug-resistant Chinese hamster ovary cells (C219) cross-reacted with the Mr 170, 000 protein of the TMQ-resistant cells. These results show that the TMQ-resistant cells displayed not only decreased TMQ uptake and increased dihydrofolate reductase but also characteristics associated with a classical multidrug-resistant phenotype. Multidrug resistance includes lipophilic antifolate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6556-6561
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Research
Issue number23
StatePublished - 1 Dec 1989


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