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Cell Mol Bioeng. 2015 Sep 1;8(3):471-487. Epub 2015 Jun 15.

Self-assembled glycopeptide nanofibers as modulators of galectin-1 bioactivity.

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J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Department of Surgery, University of Chicago. ; Department of Biomedical Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology.
Department of Surgery, University of Chicago.
J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering. ; Department of Surgery, University of Chicago.


Galectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins that act as extracellular signaling molecules in various normal and pathological processes. Galectin bioactivity is mediated by specific non-covalent interactions with cell-surface and extracellular matrix (ECM) glycoproteins, which can enhance or inhibit signaling events that influence various cellular behaviors, including adhesion, proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. Here, we developed a materials approach to modulate galectin bioactivity by mimicking natural galectin-glycoprotein interactions. Specifically, we created a variant of a peptide that self-assembles into β-sheet nanofibers under aqueous conditions, QQKFQFQFEQQ (Q11), which has an asparagine residue modified with the monosaccharide N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) at its N-terminus (GlcNAc-Q11). GlcNAc-Q11 self-assembled into β-sheet nanofibers under similar conditions as Q11. Nanofibrillar GlcNAc moieties were efficiently converted to the galectin-binding disaccharide N-acetyllactosamine (LacNAc) via the enzyme β-1,4-galactosyltransferase and the sugar donor UDP-galactose, while retaining β-sheet structure and nanofiber morphology. LacNAc-Q11 nanofibers bound galectin-1 and -3 in a LacNAc concentration-dependent manner, although nanofibers bound galectin-1 with higher affinity than galectin-3. In contrast, galectin-1 bound weakly to GlcNAc-Q11 nanofibers, while no galectin-3 binding to these nanofibers was observed. Galectin-1 binding to LacNAc-Q11 nanofibers was specific because it could be inhibited by excess soluble β-lactose, a galectin-binding carbohydrate. LacNAc-Q11 nanofibers inhibited galectin-1-mediated apoptosis of Jurkat T cells in a LacNAc concentration-dependent manner, but were unable to inhibit galectin-3 activity, consistent with galectin-binding affinity of the nanofibers. We envision that glycopeptide nanofibers capable of modulating galectin-1 bioactivity will be broadly useful as biomaterials for various medical applications, including cancer therapeutics, immunotherapy, tissue regeneration, and viral prophylaxis.

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