A class of peptides designed to replicate and enhance the Receptor for Hyaluronic Acid Mediated Motility binding domain

Kyle M. Koss, Terrance J. Sereda, Vlad K. Kumirov, Jason A. Wertheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The extra-cellular matrix (ECM) is a complex and rich microenvironment that is exposed and over-expressed across several injury or disease pathologies. Biomaterial therapeutics are often enriched with peptide binders to target the ECM with greater specificity. Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a major component of the ECM, yet to date, few HA adherent peptides have been discovered. A class of HA binding peptides was designed using B(X7)B hyaluronic acid binding domains inspired from the helical face of the Receptor for Hyaluronic Acid Mediated Motility (RHAMM). These peptides were bioengineered using a custom alpha helical net method, allowing for the enrichment of multiple B(X7)B domains and the optimization of contiguous and non-contiguous domain orientations. Unexpectedly, the molecules also exhibited the behaviour of nanofiber forming self-assembling peptides and were investigated for this characteristic. Ten 23-27 amino acid residue peptides were assessed. Simple molecular modelling was used to depict helical secondary structures. Binding assays were performed with varying concentrations (1-10 mg/mL) and extra-cellular matrices (HA, collagens I-IV, elastin, and Geltrex). Concentration mediated secondary structures were assessed using circular dichroism (CD), and higher order nanostructures were visualized using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). All peptides formed the initial apparent 310/alpha-helices, yet peptides 17x-3, 4, BHP3 and BHP4 were HA specific and potent (i.e., a significant effect) binders at increasing concentrations. These peptides shifted from apparent 310/alpha-helical structures at low concentration to beta-sheets at increasing concentration and also formed nanofibers which are noted as self-assembling structures. Several of the HA binding peptides outperformed our positive control (mPEP35) at 3-4 times higher concentrations, and were enhanced by self-assembly as each of these groups had observable nanofibers. Statement of significance: Specific biomolecules or peptides have played a crucial role in developing materials or systems to deliver key drugs and therapeutics to a broad spectrum of diseases and disorders. In these diseased tissues, cells build protein/sugar networks, which are uniquely exposed and great targets to deliver drugs to. Hyaluronic acid (HA) is involved in every stage of injury and is abundant in cancer. To date, only two HA specific peptides have been discovered. In our work, we have designed a way to model and trace binding regions as they appear on the face of a helical peptide. Using this method we have created a family of peptides enriched with HA binding domains that stick with 3-4 higher affinity than those previously discovered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-308
Number of pages16
JournalActa Biomaterialia
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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