Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Dual regulation of P-glycoprotein expression by Trichostatin A in cancer cell lines

Trinidad Mata Balaguer1, Angeles Gómez-Martínez2, Pilar García-Morales1, Javier Lacueva1, Rafael Calpena1, Lourdes Rocamora Reverte2, Natividad Lopez Riquelme1, Isabel Martinez-Lacaci3, José A Ferragut2 and Miguel Saceda12*

  • * Corresponding author: Miguel Saceda

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Fundación para la Investigación Biomédica del Hospital Universitario de Elche, Elche, Alicante 03203, Spain

2 Instituto de Biologia Molecular y Celular, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Elche, Alicante 03202, Spain

3 Unidad AECC de Investigación Traslacional en Cáncer, Hospital Universitario Virgen de la Arrixaca, Murcia 30120, Spain

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BMC Molecular Biology 2012, 13:25  doi:10.1186/1471-2199-13-25

Published: 30 July 2012



It has been reported that the histone deacetylase inhibitor (iHDAc) trichostatin A (TSA) induces an increase in MDR1 gene transcription (ABCB1). This result would compromise the use of iHDACs in combination with other cytotoxic agents that are substrates of P-glycoprotein (Pgp). It has also been reported the use of alternative promoters by the ABCB1 gene and the existence of a translational control of Pgp protein. Finally, the ABCB1 gene is located in a genetic locus with the nested gene RUNDC3B in the complementary DNA strand, raising the possibility that RUNDC3B expression could interfere with ABCB1 alternative promoter regulation.


A combination of RT-PCR, real time RT-PCR, Western blot and drug accumulation assays by flow cytometry has been used in this study.


The iHDACs-induced increase in MDR1 mRNA levels is not followed by a subsequent increase in Pgp protein levels or activity in several pancreatic and colon carcinoma cell lines, suggesting a translational control of Pgp in these cell lines. In addition, the MDR1 mRNA produced in these cell lines is shorter in its 5 end that the Pgp mRNA produced in cell lines expressing Pgp protein. The different size of the Pgp mRNA is due to the use of alternative promoters. We also demonstrate that these promoters are differentially regulated by TSA. The translational blockade of Pgp mRNA in the pancreatic carcinoma cell lines could be related to alterations in the 5 end of the MDR1 mRNA in the Pgp protein expressing cell lines. In addition, we demonstrate that the ABCB1 nested gene RUNDC3B expression although upregulated by TSA is independent of the ABCB1 alternative promoter used.


The results show that the increase in MDR1 mRNA expression after iHDACs treatment is clinically irrelevant since this mRNA does not render an active Pgp protein, at least in colon and pancreatic cancer cell lines. Furthermore, we demonstrate that TSA in fact, regulates differentially both ABCB1 promoters, downregulating the upstream promoter that is responsible for active P-glycoprotein expression. These results suggest that iHDACs such as TSA may in fact potentiate the effects of antitumour drugs that are substrates of Pgp. Finally, we also demonstrate that TSA upregulates RUNDC3B mRNA independently of the ABCB1 promoter in use.