Expression of antimicrobial peptides has an antitumour effect in human cells

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1998 Jan 26;242(3):608-12. doi: 10.1006/bbrc.1997.8014.


The antimicrobial peptides cecropin and melittin are known to exhibit antitumour activity in tumour derived cell lines. To achieve a similar effect in vivo these peptides would have to be given repeatedly to maintain therapeutic levels, which may be pharmacologically unfavourable. The expression of the genes encoding such antimicrobial peptides in the desired cell type may circumvent these problems. Expression constructs carrying cecropin or melittin have been introduced into a human bladder carcinoma derived cell line and the resultant cell clones analysed for tumorigenicity in nude mice. Expression of cecropin resulted in either a complete loss of tumorigenicity in some clones or reduced tumorigenicity, as measured by latency of tumour formation. These results suggest that vector mediated delivery of this gene to tumour cells may prove useful for cancer gene therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Carcinogenicity Tests
  • Cell Division / genetics
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Humans
  • Melitten / genetics
  • Melitten / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / metabolism
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Peptides / pharmacology
  • Protein Precursors / genetics
  • Single-Strand Specific DNA and RNA Endonucleases / metabolism
  • Transfection / genetics
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Peptides
  • Protein Precursors
  • Melitten
  • cecropin A
  • Single-Strand Specific DNA and RNA Endonucleases