Targeted protein degradation through cytosolic delivery of monobody binders using bacterial toxins

Monobodies are small engineered binding proteins that, upon expression in cells, can inhibit signaling of cytosolic oncoproteins with outstanding selectivity. Efficacy may be further increased by inducing degradation of monobody targets through fusion to the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) substrate receptor of the Cullin2-E3 ubiquitin ligase complex. However, potential therapeutic use is currently limited, because of the inability of monobody proteins to cross cellular membranes. Here, we use a chimeric bacterial toxin, composed of the Shiga-like toxin B (Stx2B) subunit and the translocation domain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa exotoxin A (ETA-II) for delivery of VHL-monobody protein fusions to target endogenous tyrosine kinases in cancer cells. Depending on the expression of the Stx2B receptor Gb3 on the cell surface, we show that monobodies are taken up by an endocytic route, but are not degraded in lysosomes. Delivery of monobodies fused to a nuclear localization signal resulted in accumulation in the nucleus, thereby indirectly, but unequivocally, demonstrating cytosolic delivery. Delivery of VHL fused to monobodies targeting the Lck tyrosine kinase in T-cells resulted in reduced Lck protein levels, which was dependent on the expression of Gb3. This led to the inhibition of proximal signaling events downstream of the T-cell receptor complex. This work provides a prime example of the delivery of a stoichiometric protein inhibitor of an endogenous target protein to cells and inducing its degradation without the need of genetic manipulation of target cells. It lays the foundation for further in vivo exploitation of this delivery system.

Published in:
ACS Chemical Biology, 14, 5, 916-924
Apr 26 2019
Epub ahead of print.
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 Record created 2019-04-30, last modified 2020-01-20

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