Alkaline phosphatase in-situ generates D-peptidic assemblies that pleitropically activate extrinsic death signaling and selectively kill cancer cells


Xuewen Du


Xuewen Du, Jie Zhou, and Bing Xu*

Author Affiliation: 

Brandeis University


Nanofibrils of small molecules, as a new class of biofunctional entities, exhibit emergent properties for controlling cell fates, but the relevant mechanism remains to be elucidated and the in vivo effect has yet to be examined. Here we show that D-peptide nanofibrils, generated by enzyme-instructed self-assembly (EISA), pleiotropically activate extrinsic death signaling for selectively killing cancer cells. Catalyzed by alkaline phosphatases and formed in-situ on cancer cells, D-peptide nanofibrils present autocrine proapoptotic ligands to their cognate receptors in a juxtacrine manner, as well as directly cluster the death receptors. As multifaceted initiators, D-peptide nanofibrils induce apoptosis of cancer cells without harming normal cells in a co-culture, kill multidrug-resistant (MDR) cancer cells, boost the activities of anticancer drugs, and inhibit tumor growth in a murine model. Such a supramolecular cellular biochemical process (consisting of reaction, assembly, and binding) for multi-targeting or modulating protein-protein interaction networks ultimately may lead to new ways for combating cancer drug resistance.