N-Terminal Modification of VEGF-A C Terminus-Derived Peptides Delineates Structural Features Involved in Neuropilin-1 Binding and Functional Activity



The interaction between VEGF-A and its neuropilin (NRP) receptors mediates a number of important biological effects. NRP1 and the related molecule NRP2 are widely expressed on multiple tumour types and throughout the tumour vasculature, and are emerging as critical molecules required for the progression of angiogenic diseases. Given the increasing evidence supporting a role for NRP1 in tumour development, there is growing interest in developing inhibitors of NRP1 interactions with VEGF and its other ligands. In order to probe the interaction we synthesised a number of exon 7- and 8-derived bicyclic peptides with N-terminal lipophilic groups and found a simple N-octanoyl derivative (EG00086) to be the most potent and functionally active. Detailed modelling studies indicated that new intramolecular hydrogen bonds were formed, stabilising the structure and possibly contributing to the potency. Removal of a salt bridge between D142 and R164 implicated in VEGF-A binding to neuropilin-1 had a minor effect on potency. Isothermal calorimetry was used to assess binding of EG00086 to NRP1 and NRP2, and the stability of the peptide in serum and in vivo was investigated. EG00086 is a potent blocker of VEGF-promoted cellular adhesion to extracellular matrices, and phosphorylation of p130Cas contributes to this effect.