Structural studies of the multi-drug resistance protein P-glycoprotein (ABCB1)

  • Nopnithi Thonghin

Student thesis: Phd


P-glycoprotein (P-gp or ABCB1) is a membrane-bound active transporter belonging to the ABC protein superfamily. It is responsible for xenobioIc efflux and also contributes to multidrug resistance in diverse diseases including cancer and epilepsy. P-gp has been increasingly recognised as a potential target for future therapeutics. Although the protein has been studied for decades, understanding of the P-gp transport mechanism is still incomplete. Two P-gp orthologues, mouse (m) and human (h), were therefore expressed in yeasts and purified in the presence of the detergent, n-Dodecyl-β-D- Maltoside (DDM). Purified proteins were examined for aggregation and monodispersity via dynamic light scattering (DLS) and their thermal stability was determined by an assay using a thiol-specific dye (CPM). ATPase activity, measured in a detergent environment, showed that the proteins were active with a basal activity of 60 ± 4 and 35 ± 3 nmol/min/mg for mP-gp and hP-gp, respectively. Crystallisation trials were conducted in the presence of nucleotide. In meso crystallisation using commercial monoolein pre- dispensed plates yielded hexagonal crystal-like objects however they failed to diffract X- rays. P-gp samples were also subjected to cryo-EM where mP-gp in the post-hydrolytic (ADP-bound, vanadate-trapped) state provided the highest resolution dataset that led to a reconstruction of 3D density map at the resolution of 7.9 Å which showed an inward- facing conformation. Rigid-body model fitting unveiled densities that were not accounted for by the fitted model illustrating new features such as bound ADP, extended NBD1- TMD2 linker and alternative allocrite-binding sites. Ultimately, the knowledge of P-gp conformation alteration was enhanced and a refined alternating access mechanism of P- gp was proposed based upon information derived from this study.
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRobert Ford (Supervisor) & Andrew Doig (Supervisor)


  • cryo-EM
  • P-gp
  • ABC transporter
  • membrane protein
  • protein structure

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