Functional characterization of six aspartate (D) recombinant mojastin mutants (r-Moj): A second aspartate amino acid carboxyl to the RGD in r-Moj-D_ peptides is not sufficient to induce apoptosis of SK-Mel-28 cells.

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Disintegrins are small peptides produced in viper venom that act as integrin antagonists. When bound to integrins, disintegrins induce altered cellular behaviors, such as apoptotic induction. Disintegrins with RGDDL or RGDDM motifs induce apoptosis of normal and cancer cells. We hypothesized that a second aspartate (D) carboxyl to the RGD is sufficient to induce apoptosis. Five recombinant mojastin D mutants were produced by site-directed mutagenesis (r-Moj-DA, r-Moj-DG, r-Moj-DL, r-Moj-DN, and r-Moj-DV). Stable αv integrin knockdown and shRNA scrambled control SK-Mel-28 cell lines were produced to test a second hypothesis: r-Moj-D_ peptides bind to αv integrin. Only r-Moj-DL, r-Moj-DM, and r-Moj-DN induced apoptosis of SK-Mel-28 cells (at 29.4%, 25.6%, and 36.2%, respectively). Apoptotic induction was significantly reduced in SK-Mel-28 cells with a stable αv integrin knockdown (to 2%, 17%, and 2%, respectively), but not in SK-Mel-28 cells with a stable scrambled shRNA. All six r-Moj-D_ peptides inhibited cell proliferation; ranging from 49.56% (r-Moj-DN) to 75.6% (r-Moj-DA). Cell proliferation inhibition by r-Moj-D_ peptides was significantly reduced in SK-Mel-28 cells with a stable αv integrin knockdown. All six r-Moj-D_ peptides inhibited SK-Mel-28 cell migration at high levels (69%–100%). As a consequence, rac-1 mRNA expression levels were significantly reduced as early as 1 h after treatment, suggesting that rac-1 is involved in the cell migration activity of SK-Mel-28.

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