Month: January 2019

Carnosine-LVFFARK-NH2 Conjugate: A Moderate Chelator but Potent Inhibitor of Cu2+-Mediated Amyloid β-Protein Aggregation

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Aggregation of amyloid-β (Aβ) protein stimulated by Cu2+ has been recognized as a crucial step in the neurodegenerative process of Alzheimer’s disease. Hence, it is of significance to develop bifunctional agents capable of inhibiting Aβ aggregation as well as Cu2+-mediated Aβ toxicity. Herein, a novel bifunctional nonapeptide, carnosine-LVFFARK-NH2 ( Car-LK7), was proposed by integrating native chelator carnosine ( Car) and an Aβ aggregation inhibitor, Ac-LVFFARK-NH2 (LK7). Results revealed the bifunctionality of Car-LK7, including remarkably enhanced inhibition capability on Aβ aggregation as compared to LK7 and a moderate Cu2+ chelating affinity ( KD = 28.2 ± 2.1 μM) in comparison to the binding affinity for Aβ40 ( KD = 1.02 ± 0.13 μM). The moderate Cu2+ affinity was insufficient for Car-LK7 to sequester Cu2+ from Aβ40-Cu2+ species, but it was sufficient to form ternary Aβ40-Cu2+- Car-LK7 complexes. Formation of the ternary complexes directed the aggregation into small, unstructured aggregates with little β-sheet structure. Car-LK7 also showed higher activity on arresting Aβ40-Cu2+-catalyzed reactive oxygen species production than Car. Cell viability assays confirmed the prominent protection activity of Car-LK7 against Cu2+-mediated Aβ40 cytotoxicity; Car-LK7 could almost eliminate Aβ40 cytotoxicity at an equimolar dose (cell viability increased from 59% to 99%). The research has thus provided new insight into the design of potent bifunctional agents against metal-mediated amyloid toxicity by conjugating moderate metal chelators and existing inhibitors. (ACS Chem Neurosci. 2018 Nov 21;9(11):2689-2700.)

‘Dual’ peptidyl-oligonucleotide conjugates: Role of conformational flexibility in catalytic cleavage of RNA

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Traditional therapeutic interventions against abnormal gene expression in disease states at the level of expressed proteins are becoming increasingly difficult due to poor selectivity, off-target effects and associated toxicity. Upstream catalytic targeting of specific RNA sequences offers an alternative platform for drug discovery to achieve more potent and selective treatment through antisense interference with disease-relevant RNAs. We report a novel class of catalytic biomaterials, comprising amphipathic RNA-cleaving peptides placed between two RNA recognition motifs, here demonstrated to target the TΨC loop and 3′- acceptor stem of tRNAPhe. These unique peptidyl-oligonucleotide ‘dual’ conjugates (DCs) were created by phosphoramidate or thiol-maleimide conjugation chemistry of a TΨC-targeting oligonucleotide to the N-terminus of the amphipathic peptide sequence, followed by amide coupling of a 3′-acceptor stem-targeting oligonucleotide to the free C-terminal carboxylic acid functionality of the same peptide. Hybridization of the DCs bearing two spatially-separated recognition motifs with the target tRNAPhe placed the peptide adjacent to a single-stranded RNA region and promoted cleavage within the ‘action radius’ of the catalytic peptide. Up to 100% cleavage of the target tRNAPhe was achieved by the best candidate (i.e. DC6) within 4 h, when conformational flexibility was introduced into the linker regions between the peptide and oligonucleotide components. This study provides the strong position for future development of highly selective RNA-targeting agents that can potentially be used for disease-selective treatment at the level of messenger, micro, and genomic viral RNA. (Biomaterials 112 (2017) 44e61)

Cyclodextrin-siRNA conjugates as versatile gene silencing agents

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Functional siRNAs (luciferase and PLK1) have been conjugated to β-cyclodextrin and the ability of the conjugates to retain gene knockdown activity has been assessed by delivery to cancer cell lines using various formulations. Initially two formulations used complexation with polycations, namely Lipofectamine 2000 and an amphiphilic polycationic cyclodextrin. Gene knockdown results for human glioblastoma cells (U87) and prostate cancer cells (PC3, DU145) showed that conjugation to the cyclodextrin did not reduce gene silencing by the RNA. A third mode of delivery involved formation of targeted nanoparticles in which the conjugate was first complexed with adamantyl-PEG-ligands (targeting ligand RVG peptide or dianisamide) by adamantyl inclusion in the cyclodextrin cavities of the conjugates, followed by charge neutralisation with the cationic polymer chitosan. Enhanced knockdown was achieved by these ligand-targeted formulations. In summary, while this study illustrated the gene silencing efficacy of a simple cyclodextrin-siRNA conjugate it is envisaged that future studies will explore the use of conjugates with a modified cyclodextrin which would be self-delivering. Detailed data such as stability, lysosomal escape etc. will then be reported for each conjugate, since this will be appropriate for conjugates which are intended to exploit, rather than merely demonstrate, the concept. The present paper was intended to demonstrate the viability and generality of this novel concept. (Eur J Pharm Sci. 2018 Mar 1;114:30-37.)

Genetically Encoded Cholesterol-Modified Polypeptides

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Biological systems use post-translational modifications (PTMs) to control the structure, location, and function of proteins after expression. Despite the ubiquity of PTMs in biology, their use to create genetically encoded recombinant biomaterials is limited. We have utilized a natural lipidation PTM (hedgehog-mediated cholesterol modification of proteins) to create a class of hybrid biomaterials called cholesterol-modified polypeptides (CHaMPs) that exhibit programmable self-assembly at the nanoscale. To demonstrate the biomedical utility of CHaMPs, we used this approach to append cholesterol to biologically active peptide exendin-4 that is an approved drug for the treatment of type II diabetes. The exendin-cholesterol conjugate self-assembled into micelles, and these micelles activate the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor with a potency comparable to that of current gold standard treatments. (J Am Chem Soc. 2019 Jan 4. )

Amphiphilic Polymeric Micelles Based on Deoxycholic Acid and Folic Acid Modified Chitosan for the Delivery of Paclitaxel

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The present investigation aimed to develop a tumor-targeting drug delivery system for paclitaxel (PTX). The hydrophobic deoxycholic acid (DA) and active targeting ligand folic acid (FA) were used to modify water-soluble chitosan (CS). As an amphiphilic polymer, the conjugate FA-CS-DA was synthesized and characterized by Proton nuclear magnetic resonance (¹H-NMR) and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis. The degree of substitutions of DA and FA were calculated as 15.8% and 8.0%, respectively. In aqueous medium, the conjugate could self-assemble into micelles with the critical micelle concentration of 6.6 × 10-3 mg/mL. Under a transmission electron microscope (TEM), the PTX-loaded micelles exhibited a spherical shape. The particle size determined by dynamic light scattering was 126 nm, and the zeta potential was +19.3 mV. The drug loading efficiency and entrapment efficiency were 9.1% and 81.2%, respectively. X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) analysis showed that the PTX was encapsulated in the micelles in a molecular or amorphous state. In vitro and in vivo antitumor evaluations demonstrated the excellent antitumor activity of PTX-loaded micelles. It was suggested that FA-CS-DA was a safe and effective carrier for the intravenous delivery of paclitaxel.

Deoxycholic acid (DA) is a typical bile acid that is secreted from the gallbladder to emulsify fats and other hydrophobic compounds. As an endogenous compound with a lipophilic nature, the introduction of DA to CS could adjust the hydrophilicity/hydrophobicity balance of the conjugate and would not lead to any serious toxicity. DA has been approved as an excellent pharmaceutical additive for injection. Molecular ligands were often grafted onto drug carriers to develop tumor-targeted drug delivery systems. It has been reported that folate receptors are over-expressed in many types of cancers, while almost undetectable in healthy tissues. The folic acid-modified nanocarriers could improve therapeutic efficacy via folate receptor-mediated active targeting. The antitumor efficiency could be significantly enhanced by synergetic active and passive tumor targeting. Based on the above, in present study, a biocompatible nanocarrier based on deoxycholic acid and folic acid-modified chitosan (FA-CS-DA) was designed for targeting the delivery of PTX. The synthesis, characterization and self-assembly of FA-CS-DA and the characterization and in vitro/in vivo antitumor activity of PTX-loaded micelles were studied in detail. (Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Oct 12;19(10).)