Extracellular ATP, as an energy and phosphorylating molecule, induces different types of drug resistances in cancer cells through ATP internalization and intracellular ATP level increase.

PMID 29152126


Cancer cells are able to uptake extracellular ATP (eATP) via macropinocytosis to elevate intracellular ATP (iATP) levels, enhancing their survival in drug treatment. However, the involved drug resistance mechanisms are unknown. Here we investigated the roles of eATP as either an energy or a phosphorylating molecule in general drug resistance mediated by ATP internalization and iATP elevation. We report that eATP increased iATP levels and promoted drug resistance to various tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) and chemo-drugs in human cancer cell lines of five cancer types. In A549 lung cancer cells, the resistance was downregulated by macropinocytosis inhibition or siRNA knockdown of PAK1, an essential macropinocytosis enzyme. The elevated iATP upregulated the efflux activity of ABC transporters in A549 and SK-Hep-1 cells as well as phosphorylation of PDGFRα and proteins in the PDGFR-mediated Akt-mTOR and Raf-MEK signaling pathways in A549 cells. Similar phosphorylation upregulations were found in A549 tumors. These results demonstrate that eATP induces different types of drug resistance by eATP internalization and iATP elevation, implicating the ATP-rich tumor microenvironment in cancer drug resistance, expanding our understanding of the roles of eATP in the Warburg effect and offering new anticancer drug resistance targets.