Original Article

Two birds, one stone: dual targeting of the cancer cell surface and subcellular mitochondria by the galectin-3-binding peptide G3-C12

Authors: Wei SUN, Lian LI, Li-jia LI, Qing-qing YANG, Zhi-rong ZHANG, Yuan HUANG
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2016.137


Active tumor-targeting approaches using specific ligands have drawn considerable attention over the years. However, a single ligand often fails to simultaneously target the cancer cell surface and subcellular organelles, which limits the maximum therapeutic efficacy of delivered drugs. We describe a polymeric delivery system modified with the G3-C12 peptide for sequential dual targeting. In this study, galectin-3-targeted G3-C12 peptide was conjugated onto the N-(2-hydroxypropyl) methacrylamide (HPMA) copolymer for the delivery of D(KLAKLAK)2 (KLA) peptide. G3-C12-HPMA-KLA exhibited increased receptor-mediated internalization into galectin-3-overexpressing PC-3 cells. Furthermore, G3-C12 peptide also directed HPMA-KLA conjugates to mitochondria. This occurred because the apoptosis signal triggered the accumulation of galectin-3 in mitochondria, and the G3-C12 peptide that specifically bound to galectin-3 was trafficked along with its receptor intracellularly. As a result, G3-C12-HPMA-KLA disrupted the mitochondrial membrane, increased the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and induced cytochrome c release, which ultimately resulted in enhanced cytotoxicity. An in vivo study revealed that the G3-C12 peptide significantly enhanced the tumor accumulation of the KLA conjugate. In addition, G3-C12-HPMA-KLA exhibited the best therapeutic efficacy and greatly improved the animal survival rate. Our work demonstrates that G3-C12 is a promising ligand with dual-targeting functionality.
Keywords: HPMA copolymer; mitochondrial targeting; cancer therapy; KLA peptide; dual targeting