Hypoxia-induced mobilization of NHE6 to the plasma membrane triggers endosome hyperacidification and chemoresistance

Fabrice Lucien, Pierre Paul Pelletier, Roxane R. Lavoie, Jean Michel Lacroix, Sébastien Roy, Jean Luc Parent, Dominique Arsenault, Kelly Harper, Claire M. Dubois

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The pH-dependent partitioning of chemotherapeutic drugs is a fundamental yet understudied drug distribution mechanism that may underlie the low success rates of current approaches to counter multidrug resistance (MDR). This mechanism is influenced by the hypoxic tumour microenvironment and results in selective trapping of weakly basic drugs into acidified compartments such as the extracellular environment. Here we report that hypoxia not only leads to acidification of the tumour microenvironment but also induces endosome hyperacidification. The acidity of the vesicular lumen, together with the alkaline pH of the cytoplasm, gives rise to a strong intracellular pH gradient that drives intravesicular drug trapping and chemoresistance. Endosome hyperacidification is due to the relocalization of the Na + /H + exchanger isoform 6 (NHE6) from endosomes to the plasma membrane, an event that involves binding of NHE6 to the activated protein kinase C-receptor for activated C kinase 1 complex. These findings reveal a novel mechanism of hypoxia-induced MDR that involves the aberrant intracellular distribution of NHE6.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15884
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - Jun 21 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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