EGFR serves as an important therapeutic target because of its over-expression in many cancers. In this study, we investigated a peptide-based therapy aimed at blocking intracellular protein-protein interactions during EGFR signaling and evaluated a targetable lipid carrier system that can deliver peptides to intracellular targets in human cancer cells. EEEEpYFELV (EV), a nonapeptide mimicking the Y845 site of EGFR which is responsible for STAT5b phosphorylation, was designed to block EGFR downstream signaling. EV was loaded onto LPH nanoparticles that are comprised of a membrane/core structure including a surface-grafted polyethylene glycol (PEG) used to evade the reticuloendothelial system (RES) and anisamide (AA) for targeting the sigma receptor over-expressed in H460 human lung cancer cells. EV formulated with PEGylated and targeted LPH (LPH-PEG-AA) was taken up by the tumor cells and trafficked to the cytoplasm with high efficiency. Using this approach, EV acted as a dominant negative inhibitor of STAT5b phosphorylation, arrested cell proliferation, and induced massive apoptosis. Intravenous administration of EV loaded in LPH-PEG-AA led to efficient EV peptide delivery to the tumor in a xenograft mouse model, and multiple injections inhibited tumor growth in a dose-dependent manner. Our findings offer proof-of-concept for an intracellular peptide-mediated cancer therapy that is delivered by carefully designed nanoparticles.
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