Engineering a leucine zipper-TRAIL homotrimer with improved cytotoxicity in tumor cells

Dmitri V. Rozanov, Alexei Y. Savinov, Vladislav S. Golubkov, Olga L. Rozanova, Tatiana I. Postnova, Eduard A. Sergienko, Stefan Vasile, Alexander E. Aleshin, Michele F. Rega, Maurizio Pellecchia, Alex Y. Strongin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Successful cancer therapies aim to induce selective apoptosis in neoplastic cells. The current suboptimal efficiency and selectivity drugs have therapeutic limitations and induce concomitant side effects. Recently, novel cancer therapies based on the use of tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) have emerged. TRAIL, a key component of the natural antitumor immune response, selectively kills many tumor cell types. Earlier studies with recombinant TRAIL, however, revealed its many shortcomings including a short half-life, off-target toxicity, and existence of TRAIL-resistant tumor cells. We improved the efficacy of recombinant TRAIL by redesigning its structure and the expression and purification procedures. The result is a highly stable leucine zipper (LZ)-TRAIL chimera that is simple to produce and purify. This chimera functions as a trimer in a manner that is similar to natural TRAIL. The formulation of the recombinant LZ-TRAIL we have developed has displayed high specific activity in both cell-based assays in vitro and animal tests in vivo. Our results have shown that the half-life of LZ-TRAIL is improved and now exceeds 1 h in mice compared with a half-life of only minutes reported earlier for recombinant TRAIL. We have concluded that our LZ-TRAIL construct will serve as a foundation for a new generation of fully human LZ-TRAIL proteins suitable for use in preclinical and clinical studies and for effective combination therapies to overcome tumor resistance to TRAIL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1515-1525
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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