The development of metastases is a multistep process that requires the activation of physiological and biochemical processes that govern migration, invasion and entry of metastatic cells into blood vessels. The urokinase receptor (uPAR) promotes cell migration by interacting with the Formyl Peptide Receptors (FPRs). Since both uPAR and FPR1 are involved in tumor progression, the uPAR-FPR1 interaction is an attractive therapeutic target. We previously described peptide antagonists of the uPAR-FPR1 interaction that inhibited cell migration and angiogenesis. To develop enzyme-resistant analogues, we applied here the Retro-Inverso (RI) approach, whereby the topology of the side chains is maintained by inverting the sequence of the peptide and the chirality of all residues. Molecular dynamics suggests that peptide RI-3 adopts the turn structure typical of uPAR-FPR1 antagonists. Accordingly, RI-3 is a nanomolar competitor of N-formyl-Met-Leu-Phe for binding to FPR1 and inhibits migration, invasion, trans-endothelial migration of sarcoma cells and VEGF-triggered endothelial tube formation. When sarcoma cells were subcutaneously injected in nude mice, tumor size, intra-tumoral microvessel density, circulating tumor cells and pulmonary metastases were significantly reduced in animals treated daily with 6 mg/Kg RI-3 as compared to animals treated with vehicle only. Thus, RI-3 represents a promising lead for anti-metastatic drugs.
Carriero, M. V., Bifulco, K., Ingangi, V., Costantini, S., Botti, G., Ragone, C., Minopoli, M., Motti, M. L., Rea, D., Scognamiglio, G., Botti, G., Arra, C., Ciliberto, G., & Pessi, A. (2017). Retro-inverso Urokinase Receptor Antagonists for the Treatment of Metastatic Sarcomas. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 1312. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-01425-9 [doi]