Retinoids - derivatives of vitamin A - are important cell permeant signaling molecules that regulate gene expression through activation of nuclear receptors. P-glycoprotein (Pgp) and ABCG2 are plasma membrane efflux transporters affecting the tissue distribution of numerous structurally unrelated lipophilic compounds. In the present work we aimed to study the interaction of the above ABC transporters with retinoid derivatives. We have found that 13-cis-retinoic acid, retinol and retinyl-acetate inhibited the Pgp and ABCG2 mediated substrate transport as well as the substrate stimulated ATPase activity of these transporters. Interestingly, 9-cis-retinoic acid and ATRA (all-trans retinoic acid), both are stereoisomers of 13-cis-retinoic acid, did not have any effect on the transporters' activity. Our fluorescence anisotropy measurements revealed that 13-cis-retinoic acid, retinol and retinyl-acetate selectively increase the viscosity and packing density of the membrane. Thus, the mixed-type inhibition of both transporters by retinol and ABCG2 by 13-cis-retinoic acid may be the collective result of direct interactions of these retinoids with the substrate binding site(s) and of indirect interactions mediated by their membrane rigidifying effects.
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