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The antitumor activity of hydrophobin SC3, a fungal protein

Abstract

The use of mushroom extracts has been common practice in traditional medicine for centuries, including the treatment of cancer. Proteins called hydrophobins are very abundant in mushrooms. Here, it was examined whether they have antitumor activity. Hydrophobin SC3 of Schizophyllum commune was injected daily intraperitoneally starting 1 day after tumor induction in two tumor mouse models (sarcoma and melanoma). SC3 reduced the size and weight of the melanoma significantly, but the sarcoma seemed not affected. However, microscopic analysis of the tumors 12 days after induction revealed a strong antitumor effect of SC3 on both tumors. The mitotic activity of the tumor decreased 1.6- (melanoma) to 2.3-fold (sarcoma), while the vital mass decreased 2.3- (melanoma) to 4.3-fold (sarcoma) compared to the control. Treatment did not cause any signs of toxicity. Behavior, animal growth, and weight of organs were similar to animals injected with vehicle, and no histological abnormalities were found in the organs. In vitro cell culture studies revealed no direct cytotoxic effect of SC3 towards sarcoma cells, while cytotoxic activity was observed towards melanoma cells at a high SC3 concentration. Daily treatment with SC3 did not result in detectable levels of anti-SC3 antibodies in the plasma. Instead, a cellular immune response was observed. Incubation of spleen cells with SC3 resulted in a 1.5- to 2.5-fold increase in interleukin-10 and TNF-α mRNA levels. In conclusion, the nontoxic fungal hydrophobin SC3 showed tumor-suppressive activity possibly via immunomodulation and may be of benefit as adjuvant in combination with chemotherapy and radiation.

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Acknowledgments

We wish to acknowledge Dr. O.M.H de Vries. He was the first to hypothesize that besides the polysaccharide schizophyllan, the hydrophobin SC3 may possess antitumor activity.

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Correspondence to Karin Scholtmeijer.

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Akanbi, M.H.J., Post, E., van Putten, S.M. et al. The antitumor activity of hydrophobin SC3, a fungal protein. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 97, 4385–4392 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00253-012-4311-x

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Keywords

  • SC3
  • Hydrophobin
  • Fungus
  • Tumor suppression
  • Immunomodulation
  • Cytokines