Cell-penetrating peptides containing the progesterone receptor polyproline domain inhibits EGF signaling and cell proliferation in lung cancer cells

Panthita Kaewjanthong, Sarintip Sooksai, Hironobu Sasano, Gyorgy Hutvagner, Sarah Bajan, Eileen McGowan, Viroj Boonyaratanakornkit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for the majority (80-85%) of all lung cancers. All current available treatments have limited efficacy. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) plays a critical role in the development and progression of NSCLC, with high EGFR expression associated with increased cell proliferation and poor prognosis. Thus, interfering with EGFR signaling has been shown to effectively reduce cell proliferation and help in the treatment of NSCLC. We previously demonstrated that the progesterone receptor (PR) contains a polyproline domain (PPD) that directly interacts with Src homology 3 (SH3) domaincontaining molecules and expression of PR-PPD peptides inhibits NSCLC cell proliferation. In this study, we investigated whether the introduction of PR-PPD by cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) could inhibit EGF-induced cell proliferation in NSCLC cells. PR-PPD was attached to a cancer-specific CPP, Buforin2 (BR2), to help deliver the PR-PPD into NSCLC cells. Interestingly, addition of BR2-2xPPD peptides containing two PR-PPD repeats was more effective in inhibiting NSCLC proliferation and significantly reduced EGF-induced phosphorylation of Erk1/2. BR2-2xPPD treatment induced cell cycle arrest by inhibiting the expression of cyclin D1 and CDK2 genes in EGFR-wild type A549 cells. Furthermore, the combination treatment of EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), including Gefitinib or Erlotinib, with BR2-2xPPD peptides further suppressed the growth of NSCLC PC9 cells harboring EGFR mutations as compared to EGFR-TKIs treatment alone. Importantly, BR2-2xPPD peptides mediated growth inhibition in acquired Gefitinib- and Erlotinib- resistant lung adenocarcinoma cells. Our data suggests that PR-PPD is the minimal protein domain sufficient to inhibit NSCLC cell growth and has the potential to be developed as a novel NSCLC therapeutic agent.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0264717
JournalPloS one
Issue number3 March
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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