Oncogenic drivers such as mutated EGFR are the preferred targets in modern drug development. However, restoring the lost function of tumor suppressor proteins could also be a valid approach to combatting cancer. ITIH5 has been revealed as a potent metastasis suppressor in both breast and pancreatic cancer. Here, we show that ITIH5 overexpression in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells can also locally suppress tumor growth by 85%, when transplanted into the mammary fat pad of nude mice. For a potential drug development approach, we further aimed to define downsized ITIH5 polypeptides that still are capable of mediating growth inhibitory effects. By cloning truncated and His-tagged ITIH5 fragments, we synthesized two recombinant N-terminal polypeptides (ITIH5681aa and ITIH5161aa), both covering the ITI heavy chain specific "vault protein inter-alpha-trypsin" (VIT) domain. Truncated ITIH5 variants caused dose-dependent cell growth inhibition by up to 50% when applied to various cancer cell lines (e.g., MDA-MB-231, SCaBER, A549) reflecting breast, bladder and lung cancer in vitro. Thus, our data suggest the substantial role of the ITIH5-specific VIT domain in ITIH5-mediated suppression of tumor cell proliferation. As extracellularly administered ITIH5 peptides mimic the growth-inhibitory effects of the full-length ITIH5 tumor suppressor protein, they may constitute the basis for developing anticancer drugs in the future.
Keywords: ITIH5; biologicals; bladder cancer; breast cancer; lung cancer; tumor growth; tumor suppressor; vault protein inter-alpha-trypsin (VIT).