Fragments of the extracellular matrix component hyaluronan (HA) promote tissue inflammation, fibrosis and tumor progression. HA fragments act through HA receptors including CD44, LYVE1, TLR2, 4 and the receptor for hyaluronan mediated motility (RHAMM/HMMR). RHAMM is a multifunctional protein with both intracellular and extracellular roles in cell motility and proliferation. Extracellular RHAMM binds directly to HA fragments while intracellular RHAMM binds directly to ERK1 and tubulin. Both HA and regions of tubulin (s-tubulin) are anionic and bind to basic amino acid-rich regions in partner proteins, such as in HA and tubulin binding regions of RHAMM. We used this as a rationale for developing bioinformatics and SPR (surface plasmon resonance) based screening to identify high affinity anionic RHAMM peptide ligands. A library of 12-mer peptides was prepared based on the carboxyl terminal tail sequence of s-tubulin isoforms and assayed for their ability to bind to the HA/tubulin binding region of recombinant RHAMM using SPR. This approach resulted in the isolation of three 12-mer peptides with nanomolar affinity for RHAMM. These peptides bound selectively to RHAMM but not to CD44 or TLR2,4 and blocked RHAMM:HA interactions. Furthermore, fluorescein-peptide uptake by PC3MLN4 prostate cancer cells was blocked by RHAMM mAb but not by CD44 mAb. These peptides also reduced the ability of prostate cancer cells to degrade collagen type I. The selectivity of these novel HA peptide mimics for RHAMM suggest their potential for development as HA mimetic imaging and therapeutic agents for HA-promoted disease.
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© 2015 The Royal Society of Chemistry.