Immunogenic and structural properties of the Asn-Gly-Arg (NGR) tumor neovasculature-homing motif

Paola Di Matteo, Flavio Curnis, Renato Longhi, Giorgio Colombo, Angelina Sacchi, Luca Crippa, Maria Pia Protti, Mirco Ponzoni, Salvatore Toma, Angelo Corti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tumor homing peptides containing the NGR motif, such as CNGRC and GNGRG, have been used for delivering cytokines, chemotherapeutic drugs, apoptotic peptides, and liposomes to a CD13 isoform expressed in tumor blood vessels. In view of the potential clinical applications of these drugs and considering the risk that NGR peptides could elicit blocking antibodies we have investigated the immunogenic properties of CNGRC and GNGRG in mice and rabbits, using various products containing these residues and different administration schedules. The results suggest that the immunogenicity of the NGR motif is very low, even when it is conjugated to tumor necrosis factor-α or to highly immunogenic carrier proteins. Molecular dynamics simulation experiments showed that both peptides have a strong propensity to populate a turn conformation. Superposition of predicted structures to the CTGNGRGEWKC loop of the 5th type I repeat of human fibronectin, a protein that contains four NGR motives, showed that the root mean square deviation of backbones was 0.7 Å for GNGRG and 0.5 Å for NGR. These results suggest that NGR peptides could mimic from an immunological point of view a "self" structure, likely the GNGRG loop of fibronectin, with important implications for the use of these targeting peptides in patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1509-1518
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Immunology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006


  • Aminopeptidase N/CD13
  • Fibronectin
  • Molecular dynamics
  • NGR motif
  • Tumor necrosis factor
  • Tumor targeting
  • Vascular targeting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Immunology


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