Theranostics 2017; 7(12):3168-3178. doi:10.7150/thno.19780

Research Paper

Spider Toxin Peptide Lycosin-I Functionalized Gold Nanoparticles for in vivo Tumor Targeting and Therapy

Huaxin Tan1, 2, 4, Yazhou Huang1, Jianghong Xu2, Bo Chen2, Peng Zhang1, Zhongju Ye2, Songping Liang1, Lehui Xiao2, 3✉, Zhonghua Liu1✉

1. The National & Local Joint Engineering Laboratory of Animal Peptide Drug Development, College of Life Sciences, Hunan Normal University, Changsha, Hunan 410081, China;
2. Key Laboratory of Phytochemical R&D of Hunan Province, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Hunan Normal University, Changsha, Hunan, 410081, P. R. China;
3. State Key Laboratory of Medicinal Chemical Biology College of Chemistry, Tianjin Key Laboratory of Biosensing and Molecular Recognition, Nankai University, Tianjin, 300071, China;
4. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Pharmaceutical and Biological Science, University of South China, Hengyang, 421001, China.


Cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) are commonly utilized for intracellular delivery of functional materials to circumvent biomembrane barrier. However, further application of CPPs is hindered by lacking selectivity toward targeted cells. The spider venom peptide, lycosin-I, is a CPP with potent cytotoxicity to cancer cells, which might enable lycosin-I to deliver functional materials into cancer cells selectively. In this study, we demonstrated that the lycosin-I-conjugated spherical gold nanoparticles (LGNPs) not only exhibited efficient cellular internalization efficiency toward cancer cells but also displayed unprecedented selectivity over noncancerous cells. Although LGNPs were removed from the living circulatory system via reticuloendothelial system-dominant clearance modes without noticeable adverse effects to animals, they actually displayed active tumor-targeting effects and efficient accumulation in tumors in vivo. Furthermore, the potential application of this platform for cancer therapy was explored by lycosin-I-conjugated gold nanorods (LGNRs). LGNRs exhibited selective intracellular translocation towards cancer cells and efficient photothermal effect under near infrared (NIR, 808 nm) irradiation, which consequently killed cancer cells in vitro and in vivo effectively. Therefore, the established LGNPs and LGNRs possessed great potential in cancer-targeting delivery and photothermal therapy.

Keywords: Spider anticancer peptide lycosin-I, Spherical gold nanoparticles, Gold nanorods, Intracellular delivery, Photothermal therapy.

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How to cite this article:
Tan H, Huang Y, Xu J, Chen B, Zhang P, Ye Z, Liang S, Xiao L, Liu Z. Spider Toxin Peptide Lycosin-I Functionalized Gold Nanoparticles for in vivo Tumor Targeting and Therapy. Theranostics 2017; 7(12):3168-3178. doi:10.7150/thno.19780. Available from