Stapled EGFR peptide reduces inflammatory breast cancer and inhibits additional HER-driven models of cancer

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BACKGROUND: The human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER) family of transmembrane tyrosine kinases is overexpressed and correlates with poor prognosis and decreased survival in many cancers. The receptor family has been therapeutically targeted, yet tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) do not inhibit kinase-independent functions and antibody-based targeting does not affect internalized receptors. We have previously demonstrated that a peptide mimicking the internal juxtamembrane domain of HER1 (EGFR; EJ1) promotes the formation of non-functional HER dimers that inhibit kinase-dependent and kinase-independent functions of HER1 (ERBB1/EGFR), HER2 (ERBB2) and HER3 (ERBB3). Despite inducing rapid HER-dependent cell death in vitro, EJ1 peptides are rapidly cleared in vivo, limiting their efficacy. METHOD: To stabilize EJ1 activity, hydrocarbon staples (SAH) were added to the active peptide (SAH-EJ1), resulting in a 7.2-fold increase in efficacy and decreased in vivo clearance. Viability assays were performed across HER1 and HER2 expressing cell lines, therapeutic-resistant breast cancer cells, clinically relevant HER1-mutated lung cancer cells, and patient-derived glioblastoma cells, in all cases demonstrating improved efficacy over standard of care pan-HER therapeutics. Tumor burden studies were also performed in lung, glioblastoma, and inflammatory breast cancer mouse models, evaluating tumor growth and overall survival. RESULTS: When injected into mouse models of basal-like and inflammatory breast cancers, EGFRvIII-driven glioblastoma, and lung adenocarcinoma with Erlotinib resistance, tumor growth is inhibited and overall survival is extended. Studies evaluating the toxicity of SAH-EJ1 also demonstrate a broad therapeutic window. CONCLUSIONS: Taken together, these data indicate that SAH-EJ1 may be an effective therapeutic for HER-driven cancers with the potential to eliminate triple negative inflammatory breast cancer.


EGFR, EJ1, Glioblastoma, HER, Inflammatory breast cancer, Juxtamembrane domain, Lung adenocarcinoma, Peptide stapling

Medical Subject Headings

A549 Cells; Animals; Brain Neoplasms (drug therapy, genetics, pathology); Cell Line, Tumor; Cell Proliferation (drug effects); Down-Regulation (drug effects); ErbB Receptors (chemistry); Female; Glioblastoma (drug therapy, genetics, pathology); Humans; Inflammatory Breast Neoplasms (drug therapy, genetics, pathology); Lung Neoplasms (drug therapy, genetics, pathology); Mice; Mice, Inbred NOD; Mice, Nude; Mice, SCID; Mice, Transgenic; Peptide Fragments (chemistry, therapeutic use); Receptor, ErbB-2 (genetics); Treatment Outcome; Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays

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Journal of translational medicine







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