The therapeutic potential of antitumor drugs is seriously limited by the manifestation of cellular drug resistance. We used the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model system to identify novel mechanisms of resistance to one of the most active anticancer agents, cisplatin. We pinpointed NPR2 (nitrogen permease regulator 2) as a gene whose disruption conferred resistance to cisplatin. In addition, we observed a 4-fold cross-resistance of yeast npr2Delta cells (i.e., cells from which the NPR2 gene had been disrupted) to the anticancer drug doxorubicin, in combination with hypersensitivity to cadmium chloride. Furthermore, npr2Delta cells displayed unaltered cellular cisplatin and doxorubicin accumulation and showed an enhanced rate of spontaneous mutation compared with the isogenic parent. These data indicate that the npr2Delta phenotype overlaps that of the sky1Delta cells that we characterized previously (Mol Pharmacol 61:659-666, 2002). Therefore, we generated yeast npr2Delta sky1Delta double-knockout cells and performed clonogenic survival assays for cisplatin and doxorubicin, which revealed that NPR2 and SKY1 (SR-protein-specific kinase from budding yeast) are epistatic. The double-knockout strain was just as resistant to cisplatin and doxorubicin as the single-knockout strain that was most resistant to either drug. In conclusion, we identified NPR2 as a novel component involved in cell kill provoked by cisplatin and doxorubicin, and our data support the hypothesis that NPR2 and SKY1 may use mutual regulatory routes to mediate the cytotoxicity of these anticancer drugs.

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Molecular Pharmacology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Schenk, P., Brok, M., Boersma, A., Brandsma, J., den Dulk, H., Burger, H., … Nooter, K. (2003). Anticancer drug resistance induced by disruption of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae NPR2 gene: a novel component involved in cisplatin- and doxorubicin-provoked cell kill. Molecular Pharmacology, 64(2), 259–268. doi:10.1124/mol.64.2.259