Self-assembling ELR-based nanoparticles as smart drug-delivery systems modulating cellular growth via Akt

This work investigates the physicochemical properties and in vitro accuracy of a genetically engineered drug-delivery system based on elastin-like block recombinamers. The DNA recombinant techniques allowed us to create this smart complex polymer containing bioactive sequences for internalization, lysosome activation under acidic pH, and blockage of cellular growth by a small peptide inhibitor. The recombinant polymer reversibly self-assembled when the temperature was increased above 15 °C into nanoparticles with a diameter of 72 nm and negative surface charge. Furthermore, smart nanoparticles were shown to enter in the cells via clathrin-dependent endocytosis and properly blocked phosphorylation and consequent activation of Akt kinase. This system provoked apoptosis-mediated cell death in breast and colorectal cancer cells, which possess higher expression levels of Akt, whereas noncancerous cells, such as endothelial cells, fibroblasts, and mesenchymal stem cells, were not affected. Hence, we conclude that the conformational complexity of this smart elastin-like recombinamer leads to achieving successful drug delivery in targeted cells and could be a promising approach as nanocarriers with bioactive peptides to modulate multiple cellular processes involved in different diseases.
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