Amino Acids

, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 311–318 | Cite as

Isolation and antiproliferation of tumor cells by a novel peptide (TC22) from the beetle Tribolium castaneum

  • Xiao-dong LiuEmail author
  • Fu-xin Zhang
  • Zhi-hua Qin
  • Hu ShanEmail author
Original Article


Anticancer peptides (ACPs) are biologically anticancer active molecules that are produced by mammals, plants, insects and microorganisms. Here, a new peptide (TC22) with the amino acid sequence MTVVLLLIVLPLLGGVHSSGIL was identified and characterized from the beetle Tribolium castaneum. We found it inhibited the growth and viability of HeLa and MCF-7 cells. Flow cytometry analysis demonstrated the TC22 induced HeLa cell apoptosis, and activated caspase-9 and caspase-3. Furthermore, TC22 led to ROS generation, and triggered p53 transcription and expression. Taken together, our results indicated that TC22 exhibited high anticancer capacity via activating p53, inducing ROS generation and through a mitochondrial pathway. This research provided a novel natural source peptide with strong anticancer capacity. These findings provide some novel insights on the potential candidate reagent in cancer treatment.


Tribolium castaneum Anticancer peptide Apoptosis 



The authors are grateful to the Research Fund for the Qingdao applied basic research project (16-5-1-53-jch), the National Natural Science Foundation (No. 31502044), the Priority Academic Talent Team Cultivation Program of the colleges and universities in Shandong Province, and the Doctoral Program of Qingdao Agriculture University (No. 663/1115001).

Author contributions

XL and HS conceived and designed the experiments. XL, FZ, ZQ performed the experiments. XL and FZ analyzed the data. XL wrote the manuscript. Other authors provided editorial advices.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing financial interest.

Ethical standard

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


  1. Ahmad A, Yadav SP, Asthana N, Mitra K, Srivastava SP, Ghosh JK (2006) Utilization of an amphipathic leucine zipper sequence to design antibacterial peptides with simultaneous modulation of toxic activity against human red blood cells. J Biol Chem 281(31):22029–22038CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Barbault Florent, Landon Céline, Guenneugues Marc, Meyer JeanPhilippe, Schott Valérie, Dimarcq JeanLuc, Vovelle Françoise (2003) Solution structure of Alo-3: a new Knottin-type antifungal peptide from the insect acrocinus longimanus‡. Biochemistry 42(49):14434–14442CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Burdon RH (1995) Superoxide and hydrogen peroxide in relation to mammalian cell proliferation. Free Rad Biol Med 18(4):775–794CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Chae JH, Kurokawa K, So YI, Hwang HO, Kim MS, Park JW, Jo YH, Yong SL, Lee BL (2012) Purification and characterization of tenecin 4, a new anti-Gram-negative bacterial peptide, from the beetle Tenebrio molitor. Dev Comp Immunol 36(3):540–546CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Gerl R, Vaux DL (2005) Apoptosis in the development and treatment of cancer. Carcinogenesis 26(2):263CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Grünwald S, Adam IV, Gurmai AM, Bauer L, Boll M, Wenzel U (2013) The red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum as a model to monitor food safety and functionality. Adv Biochem Eng Biotechnol 135:111PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Gupta A, Rosenberger SF, Bowden GT (1999) Increased ROS levels contribute to elevated transcription factor and MAP kinase activities in malignantly progressed mouse keratinocyte cell lines. Carcinogenesis 20(11):2063CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Ishaq M, Kumar S, Varinli H, Han ZJ, Rider AE, Evans MD, Murphy AB, Ostrikov K (2014) Atmospheric gas plasma–induced ROS production activates TNF-ASK1 pathway for the induction of melanoma cancer cell apoptosis. Mol Biol Cell 25(9):1523–1531CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Iwasaki T, Ishibashi J, Tanaka H, Sato M, Asaoka A, Taylor D, Yamakawa M (2009) Selective cancer cell cytotoxicity of enantiomeric 9-mer peptides derived from beetle defensins depends on negatively charged phosphatidylserine on the cell surface. Peptides 30(4):660–668CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Jin C, Zhang S, Hong C, Xu M (1997) Effects of Martianus dermestoides chevr. on tumor suppression and toxicity of cyclophosphamidum. J Med Yanbian UnivGoogle Scholar
  11. Johnston PR, Makarova O, Rolff J (2014) Inducible defenses stay up late: temporal patterns of immune gene expression in Tenebrio molitor. G3 (Bethesda) 4 (6):947–955Google Scholar
  12. Kang BR, Kim H, Nam SH, Yun EY, Kim SR, Ahn MY, Chang JS, Hwang JS (2012) CopA3 peptide from Copris tripartitus induces apoptosis in human leukemia cells via a caspase-independent pathway. Bmb Reports 45(2):85CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Kim IW, Lee JH, Kwon YN, Yun EY, Nam SH, Ahn MY, Kang DC, Hwang JS (2013) Anticancer activity of a synthetic peptide derived from harmoniasin, an antibacterial peptide from the ladybug Harmonia axyridis. Int J Oncol 43(2):622–628CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Lee YT, Kim DH, Suh JY, Chung JH, Lee BL, Lee Y, Choi BS (1999) Structural characteristics of tenecin 3, an insect antifungal protein. Biochem Mol Biol Int 47(3):369–376PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Pandey BK, Srivastava S, Singh M, Ghosh JK (2011) Inducing toxicity by introducing a leucine-zipper-like motif in frog antimicrobial peptide, magainin 2. Biochemical Journal 436(3):609–620CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Polyak K, Xia Y, Zweier JL, Kinzler KW, Vogelstein B (1997) A model for p53-induced apoptosis. Nature 389(6648):300CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Qiu Y, Shen Y, Li X, Liu Q, Ma Z (2008) Polyclonal antibody to porcine p53 protein: a new tool for studying the p53 pathway in a porcine model. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 377(1):151CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Saidosakanaka H, Ishibashi J, Momotani E, Amano F, Yamakawa M (2004) In vitro and in vivo activity of antimicrobial peptides synthesized based on the insect defensin. Peptides 25(1):19–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Siegel R, Ma J, Zou Z, Jemal A (2014) Cancer statistics, 2014. CA Cancer J Clin 64(1):9CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Sykiotis GP, Papavassiliou AG (2006) Apoptosis: the suicide solution in cancer treatment and chemoprevention. Expert Opin Investig Drugs 15(6):575CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Szatrowski TP, Nathan CF (1991) Production of large amounts of hydrogen peroxide by human tumor cells. Can Res 51(3):794Google Scholar
  22. Tang Y-Q, Yuan J, Ösapay G, Ösapay K, Tran D, Miller CJ, Ouellette AJ, Selsted ME (1999) A cyclic antimicrobial peptide produced in primate leukocytes by the ligation of two truncated α-defensins. Science 286(5439):498–502CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Tobin PJ, Dodds HM, Clarke S, Schnitzler M, Rivory LP (2003) The relative contributions of carboxylesterase and beta-glucuronidase in the formation of SN-38 in human colorectal tumours. Oncol Rep 10(6):1977–1979PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. X-d Liu, X-l Feng, Zhou B, Cao R-B, X-f Li, Ma Z-Y, Chen P-Y (2012) Isolation, modulatory functions on murine B cell development and antigen-specific immune responses of BP11, a novel peptide from the chicken bursa of Fabricius. Peptides 35(1):107–113CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Veterinary MedicineQingdao Agricultural UniversityQingdaoChina

Personalised recommendations