Date of Award

Fall 12-18-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Keykavous Parang

Second Advisor

Dr. Rakesh Tiwari

Third Advisor

Dr. Innokenity Maslennikov

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Jason Yamaki


A number of cyclic peptides containing a positively charged ring composed of arginine residues attached to hydrophobic tail made of tryptophan residues through a lysine linker namely [R5K]W5, [R6K]W5, [R5K]W6, [R7K]W5, [R5K]W7, [R6K]W6, and [R7K]W7 were synthesized and evaluated as molecular transporters. The peptides were evaluated for their ability to deliver, fluorescence-labeled cell-impermeable negatively charged phosphopeptide (F′-GpYEEI), and fluorescent labeled anti-HIV drugs (F′-FTC and F′-d4T). The results indicated that the presence of positively charged arginine residues on the ring and hydrophobic tryptophan residues in a sequential linear outside the ring was an optimal approach to improve the intracellular uptake of cargo molecules through non-covalent interactions. Some of these peptides were also evaluated for their efficiency for intracellular delivery of siRNA to triple-negative breast cancer cell lines in the presence and absence of 1,2-dioleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine (DOPE). [R6K]W6 and [R5K]W5 were found to be very efficient in the delivery of siRNA. Furthermore, co-formulation of peptides with lipid DOPE significantly enhanced the efficiency of siRNA delivery compared to peptide alone. Silencing of kinesin spindle protein (KSP) and Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) was evaluated in MDA-MB-231 cells in the presence of the peptides. The addition of DOPE significantly enhanced the silencing efficiency for all selected peptides.

A chemotherapeutic drug, doxorubicin (Dox) was covalently conjugated to the cyclic peptide [R5K]W7A and linear peptide R5KW7A, and the biological activity was evaluated in cell-based assays. Comparative antiproliferative assays between covalently conjugated peptide-Dox and the corresponding noncovalent physical mixtures of the peptides and Dox were performed. The conjugation of Dox with cyclic [R5K]W7A-Dox exhibited similar antiproliferative activity compared to Dox alone after 72 h incubation time in all cancer cell lines, such as leukemia, ovarian and gastric cancer cells. However, [R5K]W7A-Dox significantly reduced the cell cytotoxicity in normal cell lines such as normal heart muscle and normal kidney cells after 72 h when compared with Dox alone. These results revealed that this cyclic peptide prodrug can be used as a potential candidate for the treatment of cancer cells with reduced side effects against normal cells in the body.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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