Increased lysosomal uptake of methotrexate-polyglutamates in two methotrexate-resistant cell lines with distinct mechanisms of resistance. Academic Article uri icon


  • Methotrexate (MTX) resistance in mitoxantrone-selected MCF7/MX cells and in MTX-selected CEM/MTX cells is associated with reduced drug accumulation, albeit caused by different mechanisms. In addition, in both resistant cell lines the proportion of active long-chain MTX-polyglutamate (MTX-PG) metabolites is reduced relative to that in the respective parental cell line. Previous studies by others have implied that increased lysosomal uptake could affect the rate of MTX-PG hydrolysis, and hence the length distribution of the polyglutamate chains. However, in the two cell line pairs studied, the number of lysosomes per cell was not different between the corresponding parental and resistant cells. Instead, we observed a two- to three-fold increased facilitative uptake of MTX-Glu4 by the lysosomes from these two independently derived MTX-resistant cell lines, compared to uptake by lysosomes from their corresponding parental cells. Enhanced lysosomal uptake of MTX-Glu4 was reflected in an increased maximal uptake velocity, without a change in the apparent substrate affinity. In addition, the rate of MTX efflux from lysosomes from CEM/MTX cells was two-fold faster than from lysosomes from CEM cells. Consistent with this observation, the relative amount of short-chain MTX-Glu(1+2) species, as a fraction of the total amount of all MTX-Glu(1-4) species combined, was only half as large in lysosomes from CEM/MTX cells as in lysosomes from CEM cells. Together, these results suggest the possibility that increased lysosomal uptake, and hence enhanced sequestration of MTX-PGs in resistant cells, contributes to the development of high-level MTX resistance by decreasing the cytosolic levels of MTX-PGs.

publication date

  • December 19, 2005