Front Cell Dev Biol. 2021 Jul 19;9:699571. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2021.699571. eCollection 2021.
The overexpression of P-glycoprotein (P-gp/ABCB1), an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) drug transporter, often contributes to the development of multidrug resistance (MDR) in cancer cells. P-gp mediates the ATP hydrolysis-dependent efflux of a wide range of chemotherapeutic agents out of cancer cells, thereby reducing the intracellular drug accumulation and decreasing the chemosensitivity of these multidrug-resistant cancer cells. Studies with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in P-gp-overexpressing cells have shown that certain TKIs could reverse MDR mediated by P-gp, while some TKIs are transported by P-gp. In the present work, we explored the prospect of repositioning branebrutinib (BMS-986195), a highly selective inhibitor of Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK), to resensitize P-gp-overexpressing multidrug-resistant cancer cells to chemotherapeutic agents. Our results demonstrated that branebrutinib is capable of reversing P-gp-mediated MDR at sub-toxic concentrations, most likely by directly inhibiting the drug transport function of P-gp. Our findings were supported by the result of branebrutinib stimulating the ATPase activity of P-gp in a concentration-dependent manner and the in silico study of branebrutinib binding to the substrate-binding pocket of P-gp. In addition, we found that branebrutinib is equally cytotoxic to drug-sensitive parental cell lines and the respective P-gp-overexpressing multidrug-resistant variants, suggesting that it is unlikely that the overexpression of P-gp in cancer cells plays a significant role in reduced susceptibility or resistance to branebrutinib. In summary, we discovered an additional pharmacological action of branebrutinib against the activity of P-gp, which should be investigated further in future drug combination studies.