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This article is the author’s final published version in Biomedicines, Volume 10, Issue 5, April 2022, Article number 945.

The published version is available at Copyright © by the authors.


PNC-27, a 32-residue peptide that contains an HDM-2 binding domain and a cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) leader sequence kills cancer, but not normal, cells by binding to HDM-2 associated with the plasma membrane and induces the formation of pores causing tumor cell lysis and necrosis. Conformational energy calculations on the structure of PNC-27 bound to HDM-2 suggest that 1:1 complexes form between PNC-27 and HDM-2 with the leader sequence pointing away from the complex. Immuno-scanning electron microscopy was carried out with cancer cells treated with PNC-27 and decorated with an anti-PNC-27 antibody coupled to 6 nm gold particles and an anti-HDM-2 antibody linked to 15 nm gold particles. We found multiple 6 nm- and 15 nm-labeled gold particles in approximately 1:1 ratios in layered ring-shaped structures in the pores near the cell surface suggesting that these complexes are important to the pore structure. No pores formed in the control, PNC-27-treated untransformed fibroblasts. Based on the theoretical and immuno-EM studies, we propose that the pores are lined by PNC-27 bound to HDM-2 at the membrane surface with the PNC-27 leader sequence lining the pores or by PNC-27 bound to HDM-2.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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