Melanoma cell surface-expressed phosphatidylserine as a therapeutic target for cationic anticancer peptide, temporin-1CEa

We have previously reported that temporin-1CEa, a cationic antimicrobial peptide, exerts preferential cytotoxicity toward cancer cells. However, the exact molecular mechanism for this cancer-selectivity is still largely unknown. Here, we found that the negatively charged phosphatidylserine (PS) expressed on cancer cell surface serves as a target for temporin-1CEa. Our results indicate that human A375 melanoma cells express 50-fold more PS than non-cancerous HaCaT cells. The expression of cell surface PS in various cancer cell lines closely correlated with their ability to be recognized, bound and killed by temporin-1CEa. Additionally, the cytotoxicity of temporin-1CEa against A375 cells can be ameliorated by annexin V, which binds to cell surface PS with high affinity. Moreover, the data of isothermal titration calorimetry assay further confirmed a direct binding of temporin-1CEa to PS, at a ratio of 1:5 (temporin-1CEa:PS). Interestingly, the circular dichroism spectra analysis using artificial biomembrane revealed that PS not only provides electrostatic attractive sites for temporin-1CEa but also confers the membrane-bound temporin-1CEa to form α-helical structure, therefore, enhances the affinity and membrane disrupting ability of temporin-1CEa. In summary, these findings suggested that the melanoma cells expressed PS may serve as a promising target for temporin-1CEa or other cationic anticancer peptides.