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Title: Promoting the activity of a receptor tyrosine phosphatase with a novel pH ‐responsive transmembrane agonist inhibits cancer‐associated phenotypes

Cell signaling by receptor protein tyrosine kinases (RTKs) is tightly controlled by the counterbalancing actions of receptor protein tyrosine phosphatases (RPTPs). Due to their role in attenuating the signal‐initiating potency of RTKs, RPTPs have long been viewed as therapeutic targets. However, the development of activators of RPTPs has remained limited. We previously reported that the homodimerization of a representative member of the RPTP family (protein tyrosine phosphatase receptor J or PTPRJ) is regulated by specific transmembrane (TM) residues. Disrupting this interaction by single point mutations promotes PTPRJ access to its RTK substrates (e.g., EGFR and FLT3), reduces RTK's phosphorylation and downstream signaling, and ultimately antagonizes RTK‐driven cell phenotypes. Here, we designed and tested a series of first‐in‐class pH‐responsive TM peptide agonists of PTPRJ that are soluble in aqueous solution but insert as a helical TM domain in lipid membranes when the pH is lowered to match that of the acidic microenvironment of tumors. The most promising peptide reduced EGFR's phosphorylation and inhibited cancer cell EGFR‐driven migration and proliferation, similar to the PTPRJ's TM point mutations. Developing tumor‐selective and TM‐targeting peptide binders of critical RPTPs could afford a potentially transformative approach to studying RPTP's selectivity mechanism without requiring less specific inhibitors and represent a novel class of therapeutics against RTK‐driven cancers.

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Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Protein Science
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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