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Cholesterol-directed nanoparticle assemblies based on single amino acid peptide mutations activate cellular uptake and decrease tumor volume.

Chem Sci. 2017 Nov 01;8(11):7552-7559

Authors: Li S, Zou R, Tu Y, Wu J, Landry MP

Peptide drugs have been difficult to translate into effective therapies due to their low in vivo stability. Here, we report a strategy to develop peptide-based therapeutic nanoparticles by screening a peptide library differing by single-site amino acid mutations of lysine-modified cholesterol. Certain cholesterol-modified peptides are found to promote and stabilize peptide α-helix formation, resulting in selectively cell-permeable peptides. One cholesterol-modified peptide self-assembles into stable nanoparticles with considerable α-helix propensity stabilized by intermolecular van der Waals interactions between inter-peptide cholesterol molecules, and shows 68.3% stability after incubation with serum for 16 h. The nanoparticles in turn interact with cell membrane cholesterols that are disproportionately present in cancer cell membranes, inducing lipid raft-mediated endocytosis and cancer cell death. Our results introduce a strategy to identify peptide nanoparticles that can effectively reduce tumor volumes when administered to in in vivo mice models. Our results also provide a simple platform for developing peptide-based anticancer drugs.

PMID: 29163910 [PubMed]