The pH-dependent partitioning of chemotherapeutic drugs is a fundamental yet understudied drug distribution mechanism that may underlie the low success rates of current approaches to counter multidrug resistance (MDR). This mechanism is influenced by the hypoxic tumour microenvironment and results in selective trapping of weakly basic drugs into acidified compartments such as the extracellular environment. Here we report that hypoxia not only leads to acidification of the tumour microenvironment but also induces endosome hyperacidification. The acidity of the vesicular lumen, together with the alkaline pH of the cytoplasm, gives rise to a strong intracellular pH gradient that drives intravesicular drug trapping and chemoresistance. Endosome hyperacidification is due to the relocalization of the Na + /H + exchanger isoform 6 (NHE6) from endosomes to the plasma membrane, an event that involves binding of NHE6 to the activated protein kinase C-receptor for activated C kinase 1 complex. These findings reveal a novel mechanism of hypoxia-induced MDR that involves the aberrant intracellular distribution of NHE6.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)