Perforin is a cytolytic pore-forming glycoprotein secreted by cytotoxic effector cells. It is a key component of the immune response against virus-infected and transformed cells and has been implicated in a number of human diseases. Perforin activity can be inhibited by small-molecular-weight compounds, although less is known about their delivery to the site of action. Therefore, in the present study, it was explored if perforin inhibitors could be efficiently and site-selectively delivered firstly into the cytotoxic effector cells and secondly into lytic granules, in which perforin is stored. This was accomplished by designing and synthesizing four prodrugs of perforin inhibitors that could utilize l-type amino acid transporter (LAT1), since activated immune cells are known to over-express LAT1. The results demonstrate that cellular uptake of perforin inhibitors can be increased by LAT1-utilizing prodrugs (into human breast adenocarcinoma cells (MCF-7)). Furthermore, these prodrugs were also able to deliver perforin inhibitors into the cell organelles having lower pH (rat liver lysosomes). Therefore, by using these prodrugs, intracellular mechanisms of perforin inhibitory activity can be studied more thoroughly in future. Moreover, this prodrug approach can be applied for other drugs that would benefit from targeted delivery into cells expressing LAT1, such as cancer.
Keywords: Perforin inhibitor; Prodrug; Targeted drug delivery; Transporter-mediated drug delivery; l-type amino acid Transporter 1 (LAT1).
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