Defective hCNT1 transport contributes to gemcitabine chemoresistance in ovarian cancer subtypes: Overcoming transport defects using a nanoparticle approach

Sau Wai Hung, Sean Marrache, Shannon Cummins, Yangzom D. Bhutia, Hardik Mody, Shelley B. Hooks, Shanta Dhar, Rajgopal Govindarajan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Nucleoside analogs are used as chemotherapeutic options for the treatment of platinum-resistant ovarian cancers. Human concentrative nucleoside transporter 1 (hCNT1) is implicated in sensitizing solid tumors to nucleoside analogs although its role in determining drug efficacy in ovarian cancers remains unclear. Here we examined the functional expression of hCNT1 and compared its contributions toward gemcitabine efficacy in histological subtypes of ovarian cancer. Radioactivity analysis identified hCNT1-mediated 3H-gemcitabine transport in ovarian cancer cells to be significantly reduced compared with that of normal ovarian surface epithelial cells. Biochemical and immunocytochemical analysis identified that unlike normal ovarian cells which expressed high levels of hCNT1 at the apical cell surface, the transporter was either diminished in expression and/or mislocalized in cell lines of various subtypes of ovarian cancer. Retroviral expression of hCNT1 selectively rescued gemcitabine transport in cell lines representing serous, teratocarcinoma, and endometrioid subtypes, but not clear cell carcinoma (CCC). In addition, exogenous hCNT1 predominantly accumulated in intracytoplasmic vesicles in CCC suggesting defective cellular trafficking of hCNT1 as a contributing factor to transport deficiency. Despite diminution of hCNT1 transport in the majority of ovarian cancers and apparent trafficking defects with CCC, the chemotherapeutic efficacy of gemcitabine was broadly enhanced in all subtypes when delivered via engineered nanoparticles (NPs). Additionally, by bypassing the transport requirement, the delivery of a gemcitabine-cisplatin combination in NP formulation increased their synergistic interactions. These findings uncover hCNT1 as a putative determinant for nucleoside analog chemoresistance in ovarian cancer and may help rationalize drug selection and delivery strategies for various histological subtypes of ovarian cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-240
Number of pages8
JournalCancer letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 10 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemoresistance
  • Gemcitabine
  • HCNT1
  • Nanoparticles
  • Nucleoside transporter
  • Ovarian cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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