Copper-binding anticancer peptides from the piscidin family: an expanded mechanism that encompasses physical and chemical bilayer disruption.

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TitleCopper-binding anticancer peptides from the piscidin family: an expanded mechanism that encompasses physical and chemical bilayer disruption.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsComert, F, Heinrich, F, Chowdhury, A, Schoeneck, M, Darling, C, Anderson, KW, M Libardo, DJ, Angeles-Boza, AM, Silin, ii, V, Cotten, ML, Mihailescu, M
JournalSci Rep
Volume11
Issue1
Pagination12620
Date Published2021 Jun 16
ISSN2045-2322
Abstract

In the search for novel broad-spectrum therapeutics to fight chronic infections, inflammation, and cancer, host defense peptides (HDPs) have garnered increasing interest. Characterizing their biologically-active conformations and minimum motifs for function represents a requisite step to developing them into efficacious and safe therapeutics. Here, we demonstrate that metallating HDPs with Cu is an effective chemical strategy to improve their cytotoxicity on cancer cells. Mechanistically, we find that prepared as Cu-complexes, the peptides not only physically but also chemically damage lipid membranes. Our testing ground features piscidins 1 and 3 (P1/3), two amphipathic, histidine-rich, membrane-interacting, and cell-penetrating HDPs that are α-helical bound to membranes. To investigate their membrane location, permeabilization effects, and lipid-oxidation capability, we employ neutron reflectometry, impedance spectroscopy, neutron diffraction, and UV spectroscopy. While P1-apo is more potent than P3-apo, metallation boosts their cytotoxicities by up to two- and seven-fold, respectively. Remarkably, P3-Cu is particularly effective at inserting in bilayers, causing water crevices in the hydrocarbon region and placing Cu near the double bonds of the acyl chains, as needed to oxidize them. This study points at a new paradigm where complexing HDPs with Cu to expand their mechanistic reach could be explored to design more potent peptide-based anticancer therapeutics.

DOI10.1038/s41598-021-91670-w
Alternate JournalSci Rep
Refereed DesignationRefereed
PubMed ID34135370
Grant ListMCB-1714164 / / National Science Foundation, United States /
MCB-1715494 / / National Science Foundation, United States /
MCB-1715494 / / National Science Foundation, United States /
MCB-1714164 / / National Science Foundation, United States /
MCB-1716608 / / National Science Foundation, United States /
MCB-1714164 / / National Science Foundation, United States /