Publication Details

Belli, S., Franco, P., Iommelli, F., De Vincenzo, A., Brancaccio, D., Telesca, M., Merlino, F., Novellino, E., Ranson, M., Vecchio, S., Grieco, P., Carotenuto, A. & Stoppelli, M. (2020). Breast tumor cell invasion and pro-invasive activity of cancer-associated fibroblasts co-targeted by novel urokinase-derived decapeptides. Cancers, 12 (9), 1-24.


© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Among peritumoral cells, cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are major facilitators of tumor progression. This study describes the effects of two urokinase-derived, novel decapeptides, denoted as Pep 1 and its cyclic derivative Pep 2. In a mouse model of tumor dissemination, using HT1080 fibrosarcoma cells, Pep 2 reduced the number and size of lung metastases. Specific binding of fluoresceinated Pep 2 to HT1080 and telomerase immortalised fibroblasts (TIF) cell surfaces was enhanced by αv overexpression or abolished by excess vitronectin, anti-αv antibodies or silencing of ITGAV αv gene, identifying αv-integrin as the Pep 2 molecular target. In 3D-organotypic assays, peptide-exposed TIFs and primary CAFs from breast carcinoma patients both exhibited a markedly reduced pro-invasive ability of either HT1080 fibrosarcoma or MDA-MB-231 mammary carcinoma cells, respectively. Furthermore, TIFs, either exposed to Pep 2, or silenced for αv integrin, were impaired in their ability to chemoattract cancer cells and to contract collagen matrices, exhibiting reduced α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) levels. Finally, peptide exposure of αv-expressing primary CAFs led to the downregulation of α-SMA protein and to a dramatic reduction of their pro-invasive capability. In conclusion, the ability of the novel decapeptides to interfere with tumor cell invasion directly and through the down-modulation of CAF phenotype suggests their use as lead compounds for co-targeting anti-cancer strategies.



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