Mechanistic studies of a novel, human fusion toxin composed of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)121and the serine protease granzyme B: Directed apoptotic events in vascular endothelial cells

Yuying Liu, Lawrence H. Cheung, Philip Thorpe, Michael G. Rosenblum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

The serine protease granzyme B (GrB; 25 kDa) is capable of inducing apoptosis through both caspase-dependent and caspase-independent mechanisms. We designed a novel vascular-targeting fusion construct designated as GrB/vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)121, which is composed of a non-heparin-binding isoform of VEGF and the proapoptotic pathway enzyme GrB fused via a short, flexible tether (G4S). The chimeric fusion gene was then cloned into a bacterial vector, and the protein was expressed in Escherichia coli and purified by nickel-NTA metal affinity chromatography. Western blotting confirmed incorporation of both VEGF121 and GrB proteins into the construct. GrB/VEGF121 specifically bound (ELISA) to porcine aortic endothelial (PAE)/FLK-1 cells overexpressing the FLK-1/KDR receptor but not to cells overexpressing the FLT-1 receptor. Immunofluoresence studies showed that the GrB moiety of GrB/VEGF121 was delivered efficiently and rapidly into the cytosol of PAE/FLK-1 cells but not into that of PAE/FLT-1 cells after 4 h treatment with GrB/VEGF121. Treatment of cells with GrB/VEGF121 showed that the IC50 was ∼10 nM against PAE/FLK-1 cells; however, there were no cytotoxic effects observed on PAE/FLT-1 cells at doses up to 200 nM. GrB/VEGF121 induced apoptotic events specifically on PAE/FLK-1 as assessed by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated nick end labeling assay, DNA laddering, and cytochrome c release from mitochondria. In addition, the fusion construct mediated the cleavage of caspase-8, caspase-3, and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase in target endothelial cells within 4 h after treatment. In conclusion, delivery of the human proapoptotic pathway enzyme GrB to tumor vascular endothelial cells or to tumor cells may have significant therapeutic potential and represents a potent new class of targeted therapeutic agents with a unique mechanism of action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)949-959
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Volume2
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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