Effector memory T lymphocytes (TEM cells) that lack expression of CCR7 are major drivers of inflammation in a number of autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. The Kv1.3 potassium channel is a key regulator of CCR7- TEM cell activation. Blocking Kv1.3 inhibits TEM cell activation and attenuates inflammation in autoimmunity, and as such, Kv1.3 has emerged as a promising target for the treatment of TEM cell-mediated autoimmune diseases. The scorpion venom-derived peptide HsTX1 and its analog HsTX1[R14A] are potent Kv1.3 blockers and HsTX1[R14A] is selective for Kv1.3 over closely-related Kv1 channels. PEGylation of HsTX1[R14A] to create a Kv1.3 blocker with a long circulating half-life reduced its affinity but not its selectivity for Kv1.3, dramatically reduced its adsorption to inert surfaces, and enhanced its circulating half-life in rats. PEG-HsTX1[R14A] is equipotent to HsTX1[R14A] in preferential inhibition of human and rat CCR7- TEM cell proliferation, leaving CCR7+ naïve and central memory T cells able to proliferate. It reduced inflammation in an active delayed-type hypersensitivity model and in the pristane-induced arthritis (PIA) model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Importantly, a single subcutaneous dose of PEG-HsTX1[R14A] reduced inflammation in PIA for a longer period of time than the non-PEGylated HsTX1[R14A]. Together, these data indicate that HsTX1[R14A] and PEG-HsTX1[R14A] are effective in a model of RA and are therefore potential therapeutics for TEM cell-mediated autoimmune diseases. PEG-HsTX1[R14A] has the additional advantages of reduced non-specific adsorption to inert surfaces and enhanced circulating half-life.
Keywords: Disulfide rich peptide; Effector memory T lymphocyte; Immunomodulation; KCNA3; PEGylated Kv1.3 blocker; Voltage-gated channel.
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