Collaborative membrane activity and receptor-dependent tumor cell targeting for precise nanoparticle delivery in CXCR4+ colorectal cancer

Rita Sala, Laura Sánchez-García, Naroa Serna, María Virtudes Céspedes, Isolda Casanova, Mònica Roldán, Alejandro Sánchez-Chardi, Ugutz Unzueta, Esther Vázquez*, Ramón Mangues, Antonio Villaverde

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


By the appropriate selection of functional peptides and proper accommodation sites, we have generated a set of multifunctional proteins that combine selectivity for CXCR4+ cell binding and relevant endosomal escape capabilities linked to the viral peptide HA2. In particular, the construct T22-GFP-HA2-H6 forms nanoparticles that upon administration in mouse models of human, CXCR4+ colorectal cancer, accumulates in primary tumor at levels significantly higher than the parental T22-GFP-H6 HA2-lacking version. The in vivo application of a CXCR4 antagonist has confirmed the prevalence of the CXCR4+ tumor tissue selectivity over unspecific cell penetration, upon systemic administration of the material. Such specificity is combined with improved endosomal escape, what overall results in a precise and highly efficient tumor biodistribution. These data strongly support the functional recruitment as a convenient approach to generate protein materials for clinical applications. More precisely, they also support the unexpected concept that enhancing the unspecific membrane activity of a protein material does not necessarily compromise, but it can even improve, the selective cell targeting offered by an accompanying functional module. Statement of Significance: We have shown here that the combination of cell-penetrating and tumor cell-targeting peptides dramatically enhances precise tumor accumulation of protein-only nanoparticles intended for selective drug delivery, in mouse models of human colorectal cancer. This fact is a step forward for the rational design of multifunctional protein nanomaterials for improved cancer therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)426-432
Number of pages7
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Active targeting
  • CXCR4
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Fusogenic peptide
  • Protein materials
  • Self-assembling


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