P-glycoprotein (P-gp) is a critical determinant of multidrug resistance in cancer. We previously reported that MAPK inhibition downregulates P-gp expression and that P-gp undergoes ubiquitin-proteasomal degradation regulated by UBE2R1 and SCFFbx15. Here, we investigated the crosstalk between MAPK inhibition and the ubiquitin-proteasomal degradation of P-gp. Proteasome inhibitors or knockdown of FBXO15 and/or UBE2R1 cancelled MEK inhibitor-induced P-gp downregulation. RSK1 phosphorylated Thr162 on UBE2R1 but did not phosphorylate FBXO15. MEK and RSK inhibitors increased UBE2R1-WT but not UBE2R1-T162D and -T162A expression. UBE2R1-T162D showed higher self-ubiquitination and destabilisation than UBE2R1-WT and -T162A. Unlike UBE2R1-WT and -T162A, UBE2R1-T162D did not induce P-gp ubiquitination. UBE2R1-WT or -T162A downregulated P-gp expression and upregulated rhodamine 123 level and sensitivity to vincristine and doxorubicin. However, UBE2R1-T162D did not confer any change in P-gp expression, rhodamine 123 accumulation and sensitivity to the drugs. These results suggest that RSK1 protects P-gp against ubiquitination by reducing UBE2R1 stability.
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