Bombesin Analogue-Mediated Delivery Preferentially Enhances the Cytotoxicity of a Mitochondria-Disrupting Peptide in Tumor Cells

Yang, Hao; Cai, Huawei; Wan, Lin; Liu, Shan; Li, Shengfu; Cheng, Jingqiu; Lu, Xiaofeng
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Tumor-homing peptides that recognize specific markers on tumor cells have shown potential as drug carriers for targeted cancer therapy. Bombesin receptors are frequently overexpressed or ectopically expressed in a wide range of human tumors. Bombesin and its analogues have been widely used as drug carriers for tumor imaging and tumor therapy. However, the cargos used in previous studies, including radioactive and chemotherapeutic agents, are usually small molecules. Mitochondrial-disrupting peptides depolarize the mitochondria and trigger apoptosis after entering tumor cells. We are interested in whether the bombesin analogue, Bn(6–14), which contains a bombesin receptor-binding motif, can specifically deliver the mitochondria-disrupting peptide, B28, to tumor cells. To this end, we created a chimeric peptide, B28Bn(6–14), by conjugating B28 to Bn(6–14) at its N-terminus. The cytotoxicity of B28Bn(6–14) in tumor cells was much stronger than unconjugated B28. The IC50 values of B28Bn(6–14) in tumor cells (1.7–3.5 µM) were approximately 10 times lower than B28. However, conjugation of B28 to Bn(2–7), which lacks the bombesin receptor-binding motif, did not increase its cytotoxicity. In addition, the IC50 values of B28Bn(6–14) in tumor cells (1.7–3.5 µM) was 3–10 times lower than in normal cells (10.8–16.8 µM). We found that selective binding of B28Bn(6–14) to tumor cells is Bn(6–14)-dependent. Upon entering the tumor cell, B28Bn(6–14) accumulated in the mitochondria and triggered caspase-dependent apoptosis. Intratumoral and intraperitoneal administration of B28Bn(6–14) substantially suppressed the growth of DU145 tumor xenografts in mice. These results demonstrate that Bn(6–14) is able to deliver the mitochondria-disrupting peptide to tumor cells, and B28Bn(6–14) should be further developed as novel anti-cancer agent.


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