The Role of the VPS4A-Exosome Pathway in the Intrinsic Egress Route of a DNA-Binding Anticancer Drug

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Human erythroleukemic K562 cells were pulsed with doxorubicin and then chased in drug-free media to allow for efflux. Microscopy and biochemical techniques were used to visualize the subcellular localization of the drug and measure drug content and distribution during the efflux period. To explore the role of the MVB in doxorubicin efflux, K562 cells were transfected with dominant negative mutant forms of VPS4a–GFP chimeras.


Although the intracellular concentration of drug exceeds the extracellular concentration, nuclear efflux of doxorubicin occurs in living cells at a faster rate than doxorubicin unbinding from isolated nuclei into drug-free buffer. In cells expressing dominant negative VPS4a, doxorubicin accumulates in VPS4a-positive vesicles and drug sequestration is inhibited, directly implicating the MVB pathway in the egress route of doxorubicin in this cell type.


Cellular membranes are a component of the doxorubicin efflux mechanism in K562 cells. Dominant-negative GFP chimeric mutants can be used to elucidate the role of specific membrane trafficking pathways in subcellular drug transport routes.

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