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Functional characterization of a competitive peptide antagonist of p65 in human macrophage-like cells suggests therapeutic potential for chronic inflammation

Authors Srinivasan M, Blackburn C, Lahiri DK

Received 30 December 2013

Accepted for publication 9 April 2014

Published 3 December 2014 Volume 2014:8 Pages 2409—2421

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/DDDT.S59722

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Mythily Srinivasan,1 Corinne Blackburn,1 Debomoy K Lahiri2,3

1Department of Oral Pathology, Medicine and Radiology, Indiana University School of Dentistry, 2Institute of Psychiatry Research, Department of Psychiatry, 3Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics, School of Medicine, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, IN, USA

Abstract: Glucocorticoid-induced leucine zipper (GILZ) is a glucocorticoid responsive protein that links the nuclear factor-kappa B (NFκB) and the glucocorticoid signaling pathways. Functional and binding studies suggest that the proline-rich region at the carboxy terminus of GILZ binds the p65 subunit of NFκB and suppresses the immunoinflammatory response. A widely-used strategy in the discovery of peptide drugs involves exploitation of the complementary surfaces of naturally occurring binding partners. Previously, we observed that a synthetic peptide (GILZ-P) derived from the proline-rich region of GILZ bound activated p65 and ameliorated experimental encephalomyelitis. Here we characterize the secondary structure of GILZ-P by circular dichroic analysis. GILZ-P adopts an extended polyproline type II helical conformation consistent with the structural conformation commonly observed in interfaces of transient intermolecular interactions. To determine the potential application of GILZ-P in humans, we evaluated the toxicity and efficacy of the peptide drug in mature human macrophage-like THP-1 cells. Treatment with GILZ-P at a wide range of concentrations commonly used for peptide drugs was nontoxic as determined by cell viability and apoptosis assays. Functionally, GILZ-P suppressed proliferation and glutamate secretion by activated macrophages by inhibiting nuclear translocation of p65. Collectively, our data suggest that the GILZ-P has therapeutic potential in chronic CNS diseases where persistent inflammation leads to neurodegeneration such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.

Keywords: glucocorticoid-induced leucine zipper, therapeutic potential, translational impact, chronic inflammation

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