D-peptide inhibitors of the p53-MDM2 interaction for targeted molecular therapy of malignant neoplasms

Min Liu, Chong Li, Marzena Pazgier, Changqing Li, Yubin Mao, Yifan Lv, Bing Gu, Gang Wei, Weirong Yuan, Changyou Zhan, Wei Yue Lu*, Wuyuan Lu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

185 Scopus citations


The oncoproteins MDM2 and MDMX negatively regulate the activity and stability of the tumor suppressor protein p53, conferring tumor development and survival. Antagonists targeting the p53-binding domains of MDM2 and MDMX kill tumor cells both in vitro and in vivo by reactivating the p53 pathway, promising a class of antitumor agents for cancer therapy. Aided by native chemical ligation and mirror image phage display, we recently identified a D-peptide inhibitor of the p53-MDM2 interaction termed DPMI-α (TNWYANLEKLLR) that competes with p53 for MDM2 binding at an affinity of 219 nM. Increased selection stringency resulted in a distinct D-peptide inhibitor termed DPMI-γ (DWWPLAFEALLR) that binds MDM2 at an affinity of 53 nM. Structural studies coupled with mutational analysis verified the mode of action of these D-peptides as MDM2-dependent p53 activators. Despite being resistant to proteolysis, both DPMI-α and DPMI- γ failed to actively traverse the cell membrane and, when conjugated to a cationic cell-penetrating peptide, were indiscriminately cytotoxic independently of p53 status. When encapsulated in liposomes decorated with an integrin-targeting cyclic-RGD peptide, however, DPMI-α exerted potent p53-dependent growth inhibitory activity against human glioblastoma in cell cultures and nude mouse xenograft models. Our findings validate D-peptide antagonists of MDM2 as a class of p53 activators for targeted molecular therapy of malignant neoplasms harboring WT p53 and elevated levels of MDM2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14321-14326
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number32
StatePublished - 10 Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Glioblastoma
  • Mirror-image phage display
  • Native chemical ligation


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