Growth and spread of tumors requires a variety of membrane and extracellular proteases to modify membrane integrins, dissolve the surrounding matrix and release critical growth factors from both the tumor cell surface and surrounding structures. The two major protease systems involved in this process are the matrix metalloproteases and the serine proteases. Genes and gene products for both protease systems are overexpressed in a variety of neoplasms. Thus, these enzymes serve as excellent targets for the delivery of potent cytotoxic molecules to tumors. A number of peptide toxins have been engineered to bind to tumor cells with high levels of surface proteases and their receptors including anthrax toxins, Pseudomonas exotoxin, saporin and diphtheria toxin. These recombinant fusion proteins provide a novel class of anti-cancer agents that will enter clinical trials in the next several years.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Structural Biology