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A Glycopeptide from Interstitial Cystitis Patients as a Novel Anticancer Lead

Joseph Barchi

1 Collaborator(s)

Funding source

National Cancer Institute (NIH)
IC/PBS is a chronic disease of the bladder characterized by thinning and ulceration of the bladder epithelial layer causing severe pain, urinary frequency and urgency. Seminal work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, showed that a specific factor was responsible for many of the characteristic pathological changes that occur in IC/PBS. This factor, called APF, was shown to have antiproliferative activity toward bladder epithelial cells at sub-nanomolar concentrations. APF caused an increase in paracellular permeability, the down regulation of several proteins involved in tight junctions formation and reduced the levels of heparin-binding epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (HB-EGF). In addition, APF was also a potent antiproliferative agent against bladder tumor cells at equally low concentrations and has subsequently been shown to inhibit proliferation of other tumor cell lines. The peptide portion of APF has 100% sequence identity to a stretch of amino acids in the 6th trans-membrane domain of Frizzled 8, a Wnt signaling receptor. Whereas the sugar portion, Neu5Ac(alpha)2-3Gal(beta)1-3GalNAc(alpha)-O-Thr is the sialylated form of the well-known Thomsen Friedenreich disaccharide, a tumor associated carbohydrate antigen used in vaccine design and in the immunotherapy of cancer. In 2006, synthesis began on a series of analogues of the asialo derivative of APF (as-APF, equipotent to the natural sialylated compound) to define the structure-activity profile of the natural glycopeptide. In the last annual report we outlined the extensive structure-activity studies we had done with this molecule, and reported in the minimal requirements for full activity of the molecule as an antiproliferative agent. We published this year on the two inhibitors we identified and the normalization of IC/PBS-like bladder cells when treated with these drugs. They are being developed as therapeutic agents for IC/PBS. We are continuing with the SAR work by preparing carbohydrate analogues where specific hydroxyl groups are removed or replaced with isosteres like fluorine to map the important interactions of the sugar. Several of these have been prepared and two have been incorporated into the peptide. Our work with the CKAP protein was stalled since the construct we prepared as unstable and aggregated very rapidly under standard conditions. Thus we were not able to develop and assay for all our analogues. This is being revised and modified protein fragments will be explored. We have made a lot of progress on the structural front with our collaborators at the University of Maryland. By NMR and molecular modeling methods, we have identified specific motifs in various analogues that are important for dictating the conformational bias of those structures. These data have helped in elucidation the manner in which the sugar portion of the glycopeptides interacts with the peptide portion: this could be highly relevant to its interactions with specific cellular receptors and thus aid in actual drug design of particular analogues that may have selective anticancer activity. A manuscript on this work was published in the Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling. We are also working with collaborators now at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to determine the specific glycosyltransferases that are involved in the biosynthesis of APF and to explore whether or not the sugar portion is relevant to binding with specific receptors on cancer cells. The major accomplishments were: 1) Analysis of data on all 8-mer analogues as well as 4 of the most important 9-mer analogues by NMR and modeling, defined the important interactions of the molecule with itself and now expanding to protein binding; 2) Anticancer activity of two of the analogues in 11 different cancer cell lines with our collaborators and publishing a full paper in Investigational New Drugs; and 3) Exploration of the two inhibitor molecules on APF-transformed cells; and 4) Synthesis of the carbohydrate analogues and compilation of all these data for another manuscript. In addition, as a result of several lectures given on this subject in the past year, we have secured several new collaborations for APF. The first is with Professor Myriam Cotton of Hamilton College in New York, on the study of APF analogues by solid state NMR in the presence of membrane mimcking constructs. Dr Cotten is now performing solid state NMR studies with APF membrane mimics to see how it behaves while sequestered in membrane environment. The collaboration with Inka Brockhausen of Queens college in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, has shown that APF can be an acceptor substrate for various glycosyltransferases to prepare other sugar-related analogues. The efficiency as a substrate is not that high, but probably good enough to secure some new analogues. We have started a collaboration with the Proteomics lab at the Advanced Technology Program at NCI Frederick to perform a cell-wide glycoproteomics evaluation of the glycoproteome of IC cells. This will tell us the origin of proteins that bear the TF antigen and may lead us to the origin of the APF molecule!

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