Two major hurdles for small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated therapies are cell/tissue-type targeted delivery and endosomal entrapment of siRNAs, resulting in inefficient gene silencing. As a result, the objective of this study was to examine the feasibility of utilizing two peptides, one with cancer cell-targeting specificity and the second with endosome-disruptive properties, to co-deliver bioactive siRNAs into oral cancer cells overexpressing the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and induce silencing of the targeted oncoprotein, CIP2A. Previously, we designed a novel endosome-disruptive peptide, termed 599, that was demonstrated to mediate intracellular delivery of bioactive siRNAs targeting CIP2A (siCIP2A) in vitro. Furthermore, we recently demonstrated that 599 peptide-mediated delivery of siCIP2A into tumor tissues via intratumoral injections reduced the expression of CIP2A and significantly inhibited tumor growth. In order to induce targeted uptake via systemic administration, we designed the EGFR targeting peptide, GE11R9, which was found to deliver siRNAs specifically to EGFR-overexpressing oral cancer cells; however, it was incapable of mediating the delivery of bioactive siRNAs due to endosomal entrapment. Consequently, we developed a novel dual peptide delivery strategy, combining the 599 peptide, with the GE11R9 peptide and examined their ability to co-deliver siRNAs. Our results demonstrated that the dual peptide complex exhibited effective binding and specific uptake of siRNAs into EGFR-overexpressing cells compared to low-EGFR-expressing cells. The co-addition of the 599 peptide with the GE11R9 peptide also restored siRNA functionality. Furthermore, when administered systemically to mice bearing xenograft oral tumors, the dual peptide complex mediated increased targeted delivery of siRNAs into tumor tissues in comparison to the 599 peptide alone. Together, these data demonstrate the clinical potential of the dual peptide strategy for RNAi-based therapeutics by synergistically mediating the effective targeting and delivery of bioactive siRNAs into EGFR-overexpressing cancer cells.

Citation Format: Angela A. Alexander-Bryant, Haiwen Zhang, William Pugh, Lu Dinh, Christopher Attaway, Laurence Eggart, Robert Sansevere, Liliana Cantini, Andrew Jakymiw. Dual peptide-mediated targeted delivery of siRNAs for the treatment of oral cancer. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2016 Apr 16-20; New Orleans, LA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2016;76(14 Suppl):Abstract nr 2057.