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Background: Nullomer peptides are the smallest sequences absent from databases of natural proteins. We first began compiling a list of absent 5-amino acid strings in 2006 (1). We report here the effects of Nullomer-derived peptides 9R, 9S1R and 124R on the NCI-60 panel, derived from human cancers of 9 organs (kidney, ovary, skin melanoma, lung, brain, lung, colon, prostate and the hematopoietic system), and four normal cell lines (endothelial HUVEC, skin fibroblasts BJ, colon epithelial FHC and normal prostate RWPE-1).

Methods: NCI-60 cancer cell panel and four normal cell lines were cultured in vitro in RPMI1640 supplemented with 10% Hyclone fetal bovine serum and exposed for 48 h to 5 μM, 25 μM and 50 μM of peptides 9R, 9S1R and 124R. Viability was assessed by CCK-8 assay. For peptide ATP depletion effects, one cell line representing each organ in the NCI-60 panel, and four normal cell lines were exposed to 50 μM of peptides 9R, 9S1R and 124R for 3 h. The ATP content was assessed in whole cells, and their supernatants.

Results: Peptides 9S1R and 9R are respectively lethal to 95 and 81.6% of the 60 cancer cell lines tested. Control peptide 124R has no effect on the growth of these cells. Especially interesting the fact that peptides 9R and 9S1R are capable of killing drug-resistant and hormone-resistant cell lines, and even cancer stem cells. Peptides 9R and 9S1R have a broader activity spectrum than many cancer drugs in current use, can completely deplete cellular ATP within 3 h, and are less toxic to 3 of the 4 normal cell lines tested than they are to several cancers.

Conclusions: Nullomer peptides 9R and 9S1R have a large broad lethal effect on cancer cell lines derived from nine organs represented in the NCI-60 panel. This broad activity crosses many of the categorical divisions used in the general classification of cancers: solid vs liquid cancers, drug sensitive vs drug resistant, hormone sensitive vs hormone resistant, cytokine sensitive vs cytokine non sensitive, slow growing vs rapid growing, differentiated vs dedifferentiated cancers. Furthermore peptides 9R and 9S1R are lethal to cancer stem cells and breast canrcinosarcoma.

Copyright Statement

This document was originally published in BMC Cancer by BioMed Central. This work is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Details regarding the use of this work can be found at: doi: 10.1186/s12885-017-3514-z

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