iRGD-targeted delivery of a pro-apoptotic peptide activated by cathepsin B inhibits tumor growth and metastasis in mice
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The use of cytolytic peptides with potential therapeutic properties is a promising approach to cancer therapy due to their convenient automated synthesis and their capacity for modifications. However, the use of cytolytic peptides is limited due to their nonspecific cytolytic activity. In this study, we designed a tumor-targeting proapoptotic system based on an amphipathic D-amino acid-modified apoptotic peptide, KLA, a variant of (KLAKLAK)2, which is fused with a linear tumor-penetrating homing peptide iRGD through specific cathepsin B (CTSB) cleavage sequences that are overexpressed in many types of tumor tissues. Our data show that the procytotoxic peptide D(KLAKLAKKLAKLA)K-GG-iRGD (m(KLA)-iRGD) is internalized into cultured tumor cells through a neuropilin-1 (NRP1)-activated pathway by iRGD delivery. Once inside the cells, the peptide triggers rapid apoptosis through both the mitochondrial-induced apoptotic pathway and the death receptor pathway in NRP1+/αvβ3/CTSB+ tumor cells. Furthermore, m(KLA)-iRGD spread extensively within the tumor tissue when it was injected into 4T1 tumor-bearing mice. The m(KLA)-iRGD peptide inhibited tumor growth to a certain degree, resulting in a significant reduction in tumor volume (P < 0.05) and the total inhibition of metastasis at the end of the treatment. These results suggest that m(KLA)-iRGD has the potential for development as a new antitumor drug.
KeywordsiRGD Cathepsin B Tumor growth Metastasis
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81072670) and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities.
Compliance with ethical standards
All of the animal procedures and experiments were approved by the Institutional Ethical Committee for Animal Research at Sun Yat-sen University. Twelve female BABL/c mice were used in the study.
Conflicts of interest
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