Biochemical pharmacology

High-throughput screening identifies Ceefourin 1 and Ceefourin 2 as highly selective inhibitors of multidrug resistance protein 4 (MRP4).

PMID 24973542


Multidrug resistance protein 4 (MRP4/ABCC4), a member of the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter superfamily, is an organic anion transporter capable of effluxing a wide range of physiologically important signalling molecules and drugs. MRP4 has been proposed to contribute to numerous functions in both health and disease; however, in most cases these links remain to be unequivocally established. A major limitation to understanding the physiological and pharmacological roles of MRP4 has been the absence of specific small molecule inhibitors, with the majority of established inhibitors also targeting other ABC transporter family members, or inhibiting the production, function or degradation of important MRP4 substrates. We therefore set out to identify more selective and well tolerated inhibitors of MRP4 that might be used to study the many proposed functions of this transporter. Using high-throughput screening, we identified two chemically distinct small molecules, Ceefourin 1 and Ceefourin 2, that inhibit transport of a broad range of MRP4 substrates, yet are highly selective for MRP4 over other ABC transporters, including P-glycoprotein (P-gp), ABCG2 (Breast Cancer Resistance Protein; BCRP) and MRP1 (multidrug resistance protein 1; ABCC1). Both compounds are more potent MRP4 inhibitors in cellular assays than the most widely used inhibitor, MK-571, requiring lower concentrations to effect a comparable level of inhibition. Furthermore, Ceefourin 1 and Ceefourin 2 have low cellular toxicity, and high microsomal and acid stability. These newly identified inhibitors should be of great value for efforts to better understand the biological roles of MRP4, and may represent classes of compounds with therapeutic application.