Research Papers:

A bi-specific inhibitor targeting IL-17A and MMP-9 reduces invasion and motility in MDA-MB-231 cells

Dana Koslawsky, Marianna Zaretsky, Ron Alcalay, Ohad Mazor, Amir Aharoni and Niv Papo _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:28500-28513. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25526

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Dana Koslawsky1, Marianna Zaretsky2, Ron Alcalay3, Ohad Mazor4, Amir Aharoni2 and Niv Papo1

1Department of Biotechnology Engineering, The National Institute of Biotechnology in the Negev, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel

2Department of Life Sciences, The National Institute of Biotechnology in the Negev, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel

3Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Israel Institute for Biological Research, Ness-Ziona, Israel

4Department of Infectious Diseases, Israel Institute for Biological Research, Ness-Ziona, Israel

Correspondence to:

Niv Papo, email: [email protected]

Keywords: cancer therapy; cytokines; matrix metalloproteinases; metastasis; drug design

Received: March 27, 2018     Accepted: May 14, 2018     Published: June 19, 2018


The cytokine IL-17A is associated with the progression of various cancers, but little is known about the molecular cross-talk between IL-17A and other tumor-promoting factors. Previous studies have shown that the IL-17A-mediated invasion of breast cancer cells can be inhibited by selective antagonists of the matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9), suggesting that the cross-talk between IL-17A and MMP-9 may promote cancer invasiveness and metastasis. Here, we present a novel strategy for developing cancer therapeutics, based on the simultaneous binding and inhibition of both IL-17A and MMP-9. To this end, we use a bi-specific heterodimeric fusion protein, comprising a natural inhibitor of MMPs (N-TIMP2) fused with an engineered extracellular domain (V3) of the IL-17A receptor. We show that, as compared with the mono-specific inhibitors of IL-17A (V3) and MMP-9 (N-TIMP2), the engineered bi-specific fusion protein inhibits both MMP-9 activation and IL-17A-induced cytokine secretion from fibroblasts and exhibits a synergistic inhibition of both the migration and invasion of breast cancer cells. Our findings demonstrate, for the first time, that dual targeting of inflammatory (IL-17A) and extracellular matrix remodeling (MMP) pathways can potentially be used as a novel therapeutic approach against cancer. Moreover, the platform developed here for generating the bi-specific IL-17A/MMP-9 inhibitor can be utilized for generating bi-specific inhibitors for other cytokines and MMPs.

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