Enhanced anti-tumor activity of the Multi-Leu peptide PACE4 inhibitor transformed into an albumin-bound tumor-targeting prodrug

Sci Rep. 2019 Feb 14;9(1):2118. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-37568-6.


The proprotein convertase PACE4 has been validated as a potential target to develop new therapeutic interventions in prostate cancer (PCa). So far, the most effective compound blocking the activity of this enzyme has been designed based on the structure of a small peptide Ac-LLLLRVKR-NH2 known as the Multi-Leu (ML) peptide. Optimization of this scaffold led to the synthesis of compound C23 (Ac-[DLeu]LLLRVK-amidinobenzylamide) with a potent in vivo inhibitory effect on the tumor growth. However, further developments of PACE4 inhibitors may require additional improvements to counter their rapid renal clearance and to increase their tumor targeting efficiency. Herein, we explored the transformation of the ML-peptide into an albumin-binding prodrug containing a tumor specific release mechanism based on the prostate-specific antigen. Our data confirms that intravenous treatment using the ML-peptide alone has little effect on tumor growth, whereas by using the ML-prodrug in LNCaP xenograft-bearing mice it was significantly reduced. Additionally, excellent in vivo stability and tumor-targeting efficiency was demonstrated using a radiolabelled version of this compound. Taken together, these results provide a solid foundation for further development of targeted PACE4 inhibition in PCa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Albumins / chemistry
  • Albumins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Peptide Fragments / administration & dosage
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry
  • Peptide Fragments / pharmacology*
  • Prodrugs / administration & dosage
  • Prodrugs / chemistry
  • Prodrugs / pharmacology*
  • Proprotein Convertases / chemistry
  • Proprotein Convertases / metabolism*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Protein Conformation
  • Serine Endopeptidases / chemistry
  • Serine Endopeptidases / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Albumins
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Prodrugs
  • PCSK6 protein, human
  • Proprotein Convertases
  • Serine Endopeptidases

Grant support