[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Artemisinin, a natural product isolated from Artemisia annua, contains an endoperoxide group that can be activated by intracellular iron to generate toxic radical species. Cancer cells over-express transferrin receptors (TfR) for iron uptake while most normal cells express nearly undetectable levels of TfR. We prepared a series of artemisinin-tagged transferrins (ART-Tf) where different numbers of artemisinin units are attached to the N-glycoside chains of transferrin (Tf). The Tf bearing approximately 16 artemisinins retains the functionality of both Tf and artemisinin. Reduction of TfRs by TfR siRNA transfection significantly impaired the ability of ART-Tf, but not dihydroartemisinin, to kill cells. We also demonstrate that the ART-Tf conjugate kills the prostate carcinoma cell line DU 145 by the mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Artemisinin, a natural product isolated from Artemisia annua L., shows a unique anti-cancer activity by an iron dependent mechanism. Artemisinin was covalently conjugated to a transferrin-receptor targeting peptide, HAIYPRH that binds to a cavity on the surface of transferrin receptor. This enables artemisinin to be co-internalized with receptor-bound transferrin. The iron released from transferrin can activate artemisinin to generate toxic radical species to kill cells. The artemisinin-peptide conjugates showed potent anti-cancer activity against Molt-4 leukemia cells with a significantly improved cancer/normal cells selectivity.