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ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2019 Apr 3;11(13):12327-12334. doi: 10.1021/acsami.9b01281. Epub 2019 Mar 20.

Self-Assembly of Amphiphilic Peptides for Recognizing High Furin-Expressing Cancer Cells.

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School of Chemical and Environmental Engineering , Shanghai Institute of Technology , 100 Haiquan Road , Shanghai 201418 , P. R. China.
Department of Chemistry , Fudan University , 2005 Songhu Road , Shanghai 200438 , P. R. China.


Self-assembled nanostructures of amphiphilic peptides have a wide range of applications in bioimaging and delivery systems. In this study, we design and synthesize a biocompatible amphiphilic peptide (C-3) consisting of an RVRRFFF sequence and a nitrobenzoxadiazole fluorophore that can self-assemble into stable micelles for specifically detecting furin, a kind of proprotein convertase with promoting tumor progression. The self-assembly of C-3 with a β-sheet nanostructure is capable of a rapid and specific response to furin in only 5 min in aqueous solution because of the existence of the RVRR motif in the C-3 molecule. The C-3 nanostructures thus can selectively distinguish high furin-expressing cancer cells, like MDA-MB-231 cells, a kind of human breast cancer cells, from normal cells. Furthermore, the C-3 self-assembly can stay in living cells for a long time and are capable of durable detection of intracellular furin, being good for tracer analysis. To our knowledge, this is the first example of self-assembly of a soluble amphiphilic peptide that can selectively detect furin in high furin-expressing live cells.


fluorescence; furin; micelles; peptides; self-assembly


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