ABC transporters and the hallmarks of cancer: roles in cancer aggressiveness beyond multidrug resistance

Wanjiru Muriithi, Lucy Wanjiku Macharia, Carlos Pilotto Heming, et al.


The ATP-binding cassette transporters (ABC transporters) have been intensely studied over the past 50 years for their involvement inthe multidrug resistance (MDR) phenotype, especially in cancer. They are frequently overexpressed in both naive and post-treatmenttumors, and hinder effective chemotherapy by reducing drug accumulation in cancer cells. In the last decade however, severalstudies have established that ABC transporters have additional, fundamental roles in tumor biology; there is strong evidence thatthese proteins are involved in transporting tumor-enhancing molecules and/or in protein–protein interactions that impact canceraggressiveness, progression, and patient prognosis. This review highlights these studies in relation to some well-described cancerhallmarks, in an effort to re-emphasize the need for further investigation into the physiological functions of ABC transporters thatare critical for tumor development. Unraveling these new roles offers an opportunity to define new strategies and targets for therapy,which would include endogenous substrates or signaling pathways that regulate these proteins.

Cite this article as: M Wanjiru, WM Lucy, PH Carlos, LE Juliana, N Atunga,NF Paulo, et al. ABC transporters and the hallmarks of cancer: roles in canceraggressiveness beyond multidrug resistance. Cancer Biol Med 2020; 17:253-269. doi: 10.20892/j.issn.2095-3941.2019.0284


ABC transporters; cancer aggressiveness; hallmarks of cancer

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