Proapoptotic Cyclic Peptide BC71 Targets Cell-Surface GRP78 and Functions as an Anticancer Therapeutic in Mice

Chieh Kao, Ritu Chandna, Abhijeet Ghode, Charlotte Dsouza, Mo Chen, Andreas Larsson, Siau Hoi Lim, Minjun Wang, Zhonglian Cao, Yizhun Zhu, Ganesh S. Anand, Ruowen Ge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Glucose regulated protein 78 kDa (GRP78) is a recently emerged target for cancer therapy and a biomarker for cancer prognosis. Overexpression of GRP78 is observed in many types of cancers, with the cell-surface GRP78 being preferentially present in cancer cells and cancer blood vessel endothelial cells. Isthmin (ISM) is a secreted high-affinity proapoptotic protein ligand of cell-surface GRP78 that suppresses angiogenesis and tumor growth in mice. The C-terminal AMOP (adhesion-associated domain in MUC4 and other proteins) domain of ISM is critical in mediating its interaction with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). In this work, we report novel cyclic peptides harboring the RKD motif in the ISM AMOP domain that function as proapoptotic ligands of cell-surface GRP78. The most potent peptide, BC71, binds to GRP78 and converge to tumor in mice. Intravenous administration of BC71 suppressed xenograft tumor growth in mice as a single agent, with significant reduction in tumor angiogenesis and upsurge in apoptosis. Fluorescent-labeled BC71 accumulates in tumor in mice by targeting cell-surface GRP78. We show that BC71 triggers apoptosis via cell-surface GRP78 and activates caspase-8 and p53 signaling pathways in HUVECs. Using amide hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDXMS), we identified that BC71 preferentially binds to ATP-bound GRP78 via amino acid residues 244–257 of GRP78. Hence, BC71 serves as a valuable prototype for further development of peptidomimetic anticancer drugs targeting cell-surface GRP78 as well as PET imaging agents for cancer prognosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-32
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Jul 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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