Glycan Alteration Imparts Cellular Resistance to a Membrane-Lytic Anticancer Peptide

Ken Ishikawa, Scott H. Medina, Joel P. Schneider, Amar J.S. Klar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Although resistance toward small-molecule chemotherapeutics has been well studied, the potential of tumor cells to avoid destruction by membrane-lytic compounds remains unexplored. Anticancer peptides (ACPs) are a class of such agents that disrupt tumor cell membranes through rapid and non-stereospecific mechanisms, encouraging the perception that cellular resistance toward ACPs is unlikely to occur. We demonstrate that eukaryotic cells can, indeed, develop resistance to the model oncolytic peptide SVS-1, which preferentially disrupts the membranes of cancer cells. Utilizing fission yeast as a model organism, we show that ACP resistance is largely controlled through the loss of cell-surface anionic saccharides. A similar mechanism was discovered in mammalian cancer cells where removal of negatively charged sialic acid residues directly transformed SVS-1-sensitive cell lines into resistant phenotypes. These results demonstrate that changes in cell-surface glycosylation play a major role in tumor cell resistance toward oncolytic peptides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-158
Number of pages10
JournalCell Chemical Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 16 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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