Lipidome-based targeting of STAT3-driven breast cancer cells using poly-l-glutamic acid–coated layer-by-layer nanoparticles

Isidora Tosic, Lisa N. Heppler, Susana P. Egusquiaguirre, Natalie Boehnke, Santiago Correa, Daniel F. Costa, Elizabeth A. Grossman Moore, Sharmistha Pal, Douglas S. Richardson, Alexander R. Ivanov, Daphne A. Haas-Kogan, Daniel K. Nomura, Paula T. Hammond, David A. Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The oncogenic transcription factor STAT3 is aberrantly activated in 70% of breast cancers, including nearly all triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs). Because STAT3 is difficult to target directly, we considered whether metabolic changes driven by activated STAT3 could provide a therapeutic opportunity. We found that STAT3 prominently modulated several lipid classes, with most profound effects on N-acyl taurine and arachidonic acid, both of which are involved in plasma membrane remodeling. To exploit these metabolic changes therapeutically, we screened a library of layer-by-layer (LbL) nanoparticles (NPs) differing in the surface layer that modulates interactivity with the cell membrane. We found that poly-L-glutamic acid (PLE)–coated NPs bind to STAT3-transformed breast cancer cells with 50% greater efficiency than to nontransformed cells, and the heightened PLE-NP binding to TNBC cells was attenuated by STAT3 inhibition. This effect was also observed in densely packed three-dimensional breast cancer organoids. As STAT3-transformed cells show greater resistance to cytotoxic agents, we evaluated whether enhanced targeted delivery via PLE-NPs would provide a therapeutic advantage. We found that cisplatin-loaded PLE-NPs induced apoptosis of STAT3-driven cells at lower doses compared with both unencapsulated cisplatin and cisplatin-loaded nontargeted NPs. In addition, because radiation is commonly used in breast cancer treatment, and may alter cellular lipid distribution, we analyzed its effect on PLE-NP–cell binding. Irradiation of cells enhanced the STAT3-targeting properties of PLE-NPs in a dose-dependent manner, suggesting potential synergies between these therapeutic modalities. These findings suggest that cellular lipid changes driven by activated STAT3 may be exploited therapeutically using unique LbL NPs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)726-738
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a fellowship from the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research (to N. Boehnke); a fellowship from the Sloan and Siebel Foundations (to S. Correa); NIH grants 5R01CA218500 (to A.R. Ivanov) and 1R01GM120272

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Association for Cancer Research.


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