Cell targeting has been considered an important strategy in diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Among different targeting units, peptides have emerged for their ability to bind to many different cellular targets, their scarce immunogenicity and the possibility of introducing multiple copies on nanosystems, providing high avidity for the target. However, their sensitivity to proteases strongly limits their applications in vivo. Here, we show that when presented on the surface of nanostructures, peptide stability to proteolysis is strongly improved without reducing the targeting activity. We prepared plasmonic nanostructures functionalized with a dodecapeptide (GE11) which targets EGFR, a protein overexpressed on different types of tumors. Two types of nanosystems were prepared in which the targeting unit was either directly linked to gold nanoparticles or through a PEG chain, resulting in a different peptide density on the surface of nanostructures. The peptide was rapidly degraded in 20% human serum or in the presence of isolated serine proteases, whereas no significant proteolytic fragments were detected during incubation of the nanosystems and after 24 h digestion, the nanostructures maintained their targeting activity and selectivity on colon cancer cells. Molecular dynamic calculations of the interaction of the nanostructure with chymotrypsin suggest that the formation of the enzyme-peptide complex, the first step in the mechanism of peptide hydrolysis, is highly unlikely because of the constraint imposed by the link of the peptide to the nanoparticle. These results support the utilization of peptides as active targeting units in nanomedicine.

Protection against proteolysis of a targeting peptide on gold nanostructures

Biscaglia, Francesca;Meneghetti, Moreno
;
Gobbo, Marina
2021

Abstract

Cell targeting has been considered an important strategy in diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Among different targeting units, peptides have emerged for their ability to bind to many different cellular targets, their scarce immunogenicity and the possibility of introducing multiple copies on nanosystems, providing high avidity for the target. However, their sensitivity to proteases strongly limits their applications in vivo. Here, we show that when presented on the surface of nanostructures, peptide stability to proteolysis is strongly improved without reducing the targeting activity. We prepared plasmonic nanostructures functionalized with a dodecapeptide (GE11) which targets EGFR, a protein overexpressed on different types of tumors. Two types of nanosystems were prepared in which the targeting unit was either directly linked to gold nanoparticles or through a PEG chain, resulting in a different peptide density on the surface of nanostructures. The peptide was rapidly degraded in 20% human serum or in the presence of isolated serine proteases, whereas no significant proteolytic fragments were detected during incubation of the nanosystems and after 24 h digestion, the nanostructures maintained their targeting activity and selectivity on colon cancer cells. Molecular dynamic calculations of the interaction of the nanostructure with chymotrypsin suggest that the formation of the enzyme-peptide complex, the first step in the mechanism of peptide hydrolysis, is highly unlikely because of the constraint imposed by the link of the peptide to the nanoparticle. These results support the utilization of peptides as active targeting units in nanomedicine.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/3398370
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