Dual effects of the PI3K inhibitor ZSTK474 on multidrug efflux pumps in resistant cancer cells

Divya Muthiah, Richard Callaghan*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    ZSTK474 is a potent phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor that reduces cell proliferation via G1-arrest. However, there is little information on the susceptibility of this anticancer drug to resistance conferred by the multidrug pumps P-glycoprotein (ABCB1) and ABCG2. We have demonstrated that ZSTK474 generated cytotoxicity in cells over-expressing either pump with potency similar to that in drug sensitive cells. In addition, the co-administration of ZSTK474 with the cytotoxic anti-cancer drugs vinblastine and mitoxantrone caused a potentiated cytotoxic effect in both drug sensitive and efflux pump expressing cells. These observations suggest that ZSTK474 is unaffected by the presence of multidrug efflux pumps and may circumvent their activities. Indeed, ZSTK474 increased the cellular accumulation of calcein-AM and mitoxantrone in cells expressing ABCB1 and ABCG2, respectively. ZSTK474 treatment also resulted in reduced expression of both efflux pumps in multidrug resistant cancer cells. Measurement of ABCB1 or ABCG2 mRNA levels demonstrated that the reduction was not due to altered transcription. Similarly, inhibitor studies showed that the proteasomal degradation pathway for ABCB1 and the lysosomal route for ABCG2 degradation were unaffected by ZSTK474. Thus the mechanism underlying reduced ABCB1 and ABCG2 levels caused by ZSTK474 was due to a reduction in overall protein synthesis; a process influenced by the PI3K pathway. In summary, ZSTK474 is not susceptible to efflux by the resistance mediators ABCB1 and ABCG2. Moreover, it inhibits the drug transport function of the pumps and leads to a reduction in their cellular expression levels. Our observations demonstrate that ZSTK474 is a powerful anticancer drug.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)127-137
    Number of pages11
    JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmacology
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2017


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