Synthesis and characterization of Her2-NLP peptide conjugates targeting circulating breast cancer cells: Cellular uptake and localization by fluorescent microscopic imaging

Huawei Cai, Ajay N. Singh, Xiankai Sun, Fangyu Peng

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4 Scopus citations


To synthesize a fluorescent Her2-NLP peptide conjugate consisting of Her2/neu targeting peptide and nuclear localization sequence peptide (NLP) and assess its cellular uptake and intracellular localization for radionuclide cancer therapy targeting Her2/neu-positive circulating breast cancer cells (CBCC). Fluorescent Cy5.5 Her2-NLP peptide conjugate was synthesized by coupling a bivalent peptide sequence, which consisted of a Her2-binding peptide (NH2-GSGKCCYSL) and an NLP peptide (CGYGPKKKRKVGG) linked by a polyethylene glycol (PEG) chain with 6 repeating units, with an activated Cy5.5 ester. The conjugate was separated and purified by HPLC and then characterized by Maldi-MS. The intracellular localization of fluorescent Cy5.5 Her2-NLP peptide conjugate was assessed by fluorescent microscopic imaging using a confocal microscope after incubation of Cy5.5-Her2-NLP with Her2/neu positive breast cancer cells and Her2/neu negative control breast cancer cells, respectively. Fluorescent signals were detected in cytoplasm of Her2/neu positive breast cancer cells (SKBR-3 and BT474 cell lines), but not or little in cytoplasm of Her2/neu negative breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-231), after incubation of the breast cancer cells with Cy5.5-Her2-NLP conjugates in vitro. No fluorescent signals were detected within the nuclei of Her2/neu positive SKBR-3 and BT474 breast cancer cells, neither Her2/neu negative MDA-MB-231 cells, incubated with the Cy5.5-Her2-NLP peptide conjugates, suggesting poor nuclear localization of the Cy5.5-Her2-NLP conjugates localized within the cytoplasm after their cellular uptake and internalization by the Her2/neu positive breast cancer cells. Her2-binding peptide (KCCYSL) is a promising agent for radionuclide therapy of Her2/neu positive breast cancer using a β- or α emitting radionuclide, but poor nuclear localization of the Her2-NLP peptide conjugates may limit its use for eradication of Her2/neu-positive CBCC using I-125 or other Auger electron emitting radionuclide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-117
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Fluorescence
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015



  • Breast cancer
  • Circulating tumor cells
  • Her2/neu oncoprotein
  • Nuclear localization sequence peptide
  • Radionuclide cancer therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Spectroscopy
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry

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