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Dimer Peptide Ligands of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor: Optimizing Linker Length for High Affinity and Antiangiogenic Activity

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posted on 2023-07-06, 14:04 authored by Xiaoqing Ye, Jean-François Gaucher, Haofeng Hu, Lei Wang, Sylvain Broussy
Macromolecular ligands targeting vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF) to inhibit pathological angiogenesis are used in the clinic for the treatment of cancers and ocular diseases. To develop smaller ligands retaining high affinity through an avidity effect, here we design homodimer peptides targeting the two symmetrical binding sites of the VEGF homodimer. A series of 11 dimers were synthesized with flexible poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) linkers of increasing lengths. The binding mode was determined by size exclusion chromatography, and analytical thermodynamic parameters were measured by isothermal titration calorimetry and compared to the antibody bevacizumab. The effect of linker length was qualitatively correlated to a theoretical model. With the optimal length in PEG25-dimer D6, the binding affinity was improved 40-fold compared to a monomer control, resulting in a single-digit nanomolar Kd value. Finally, we validated the benefit of the dimerization strategy by evaluating the activity of control monomers and selected dimers in cell-based assays with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs).

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