CD44 is a multifunctional cell surface protein involved in proliferation and differentiation, angiogenesis and signaling. The expression of CD44 is up-regulated in several types of human tumors and particularly in cancer stem cells, representing an appealing target for drug delivery in the treatment of cancer. We have explored here several protein ligands of CD44 for the construction of self-assembling modular proteins designed to bind and internalize target cells. Among five tested ligands, two of them (A5G27 and FNI/II/V) drive the formation of protein-only, ring-shaped nanoparticles of about 14 nm that efficiently bind and penetrate CD44+ cells by an endosomal route. The potential of these newly designed nanoparticles is evaluated regarding the need of biocompatible nanostructured materials for drug delivery in CD44-linked conditions. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
- Drug delivery
- Multifunctional protein