Suppression of c-Myc is involved in multi-walled carbon nanotubes' down-regulation of ATP-binding cassette transporters in human colon adenocarcinoma cells

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Abstract

Over-expression of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters, a large family of integral membrane proteins that decrease cellular drug uptake and accumulation by active extrusion, is one of the major causes of cancer multi-drug resistance (MDR) that frequently leads to failure of chemotherapy. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs)-based drug delivery devices hold great promise in enhancing the efficacy of cancer chemotherapy. However, CNTs' effects on the ABC transporters remain under-investigated. In this study, we found that multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) reduced transport activity and expression of ABC transporters including ABCB1/Pgp and ABCC4/MRP4 in human colon adenocarcinoma Caco-2 cells. Proto-oncogene c-Myc, which directly regulates ABC gene expression, was concurrently decreased in MWCNT-treated cells and forced over-expression of c-Myc reversed MWCNTs' inhibitory effects on ABCB1 and ABCC4 expression. MWCNT-cell membrane interaction and cell membrane oxidative damage were observed. However, antioxidants such as vitamin C, β-mecaptoethanol and dimethylthiourea failed to antagonize MWCNTs' down-regulation of ABC transporters. These data suggest that MWCNTs may act on c-Myc, but not through oxidative stress, to down-regulate ABC transporter expression. Our findings thus shed light on CNTs' novel cellular effects that may be utilized to develop CNTs-based drug delivery devices to overcome ABC transporter-mediated cancer chemoresistance.

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