British journal of pharmacology

Nucleoside transporters and human organic cation transporter 1 determine the cellular handling of DNA-methyltransferase inhibitors.

PMID 24780098


Inhibitors of DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs), such as azacytidine, decitabine and zebularine, are used for the epigenetic treatment of cancer. Their action may depend upon their translocation across the plasma membrane. The aim of this study was to identify transporter proteins contributing to DNMT inhibitor action. Drug interactions with selected hCNT and hENT proteins were studied in transiently transfected HeLa and MDCK cells. Interaction with human organic cation transporters (hOCTs) was assessed in transiently transfected HeLa cells and Xenopus laevis oocytes. Zebularine uptake was mediated by hCNT1, hCNT3 and hENT2. Decitabine interacted with but was not translocated by any nucleoside transporter (NT) type. hCNT expression at the apical domain of MDCK cells promoted net vectorial flux of zebularine. Neither hOCT1 nor hOCT2 transported decitabine, but both were involved in the efflux of zebularine, suggesting these proteins act as efflux transporters. hOCT1 polymorphic variants, known to alter function, decreased zebularine efflux. This study highlights the influence of human NTs and hOCTs on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of selected DNMT inhibitors. As hOCTs may also behave as efflux transporters, they could contribute either to chemoresistance or to chemosensitivity, depending upon the nature of the drug or combination of drugs being used in cancer therapy.