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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Discovery and Characterization of a Potent and Specific Peptide Ligand Targeting Endothelial Progenitor Cells and Endothelial Cells for Tissue Regeneration

  • Author(s): Hao, D
  • Xiao, W
  • Liu, R
  • Kumar, P
  • Li, Y
  • Zhou, P
  • Guo, F
  • Farmer, DL
  • Lam, KS
  • Wang, F
  • Wang, A
  • et al.

© 2017 American Chemical Society. Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) and endothelial cells (ECs) play a vital role in endothelialization and vascularization for tissue regeneration. Various EPC/EC targeting biomolecules have been investigated to improve tissue regeneration with limited success often due to their limited functional specificity and structural stability. One-bead one-compound (OBOC) combinatorial technology is an ultrahigh throughput chemical library synthesis and screening method suitable for ligand discovery against a wide range of biological targets, such as integrins. In this study, using primary human EPCs/ECs as living probes, we identified an αvβ3 integrin ligand LXW7 discovered by OBOC combinatorial technology as a potent and specific EPC/EC targeting ligand. LXW7 overcomes the major barriers of other functional biomolecules that have previously been used to improve vascularization for tissue regeneration and possesses optimal stability, EPC/EC specificity, and functionality. LXW7 is a disulfide cyclic octa-peptide (cGRGDdvc) containing unnatural amino acids flanking both sides of the main functional motif; therefore it will be more resistant to proteolysis and more stable in vivo compared to linear peptides and peptides consisting of only natural amino acids. Compared with the conventional αvβ3 integrin ligand GRGD peptide, LXW7 showed stronger binding affinity to primary EPCs/ECs but weaker binding to platelets and no binding to THP-1 monocytes. In addition, ECs bound to the LXW7 treated culture surface exhibited enhanced biological functions such as proliferation, likely due to increased phosphorylation of VEGF receptor 2 (VEGF-R2) and activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) ERK1/2. Surface modification of electrospun microfibrous PLLA/PCL biomaterial scaffolds with LXW7 via Click chemistry resulted in significantly improved endothelial coverage. LXW7 and its derivatives hold great promise for EPC/EC recruitment and delivery and can be widely applied to functionalize various biological and medical materials to improve endothelialization and vascularization for tissue regeneration applications.

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