Cellular uptake and cytotoxicity of drug-peptide conjugates regulated by conjugation site

Authors: Zhang, Pengcheng; Cheetham, Andrew G.; Lock, Lye Lin; Cui, Honggang; Bioconjugate Chemistry; (2013); 10.1021/bc300585h

Conjugation of anticancer drugs to hydrophilic peptides such as Tat is a widely adopted strategy to improve the drug's solubility, cellular uptake, and potency against cancerous cells. Here we report that attachment of an anticancer drug doxorubicin to the N- or C-terminal of the Tat peptide can have a significant impact on their cellular uptake and cytotoxicity against both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant cancer cells. We observed higher cellular uptake by both cell lines for C-terminal conjugate relative to the N-terminal analogue. Our results reveal that the C-terminal conjugate partially overcame the multidrug resistance of cervical cancer cells, while the N-terminal conjugate showed no significant improvement in cytotoxicity when compared with free doxorubicin. We also found that both N- and C-conjugates offer a mechanism to circumvent drug efflux associated with multidrug resistance.