Improvement of the performance of anticancer peptides using a drug repositioning pipeline

Elyas Mohammadi, Mojtaba Tahmoorespur, Rui Benfeitas, Ozlem Altay, Ali Javadmanesh, Simon Lam, Adil Mardinoglu, Mohammad Hadi Sekhavati*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of anticancer peptides (ACPs) as an alternative/complementary strategy to conventional chemotherapy treatments has been shown to decrease drug resistance and/or severe side effects. However, the efficacy of the positively-charged ACP is inhibited by elevated levels of negatively-charged cell-surface components which trap the peptides and prevent their contact with the cell membrane. Consequently, this decreases ACP-mediated membrane pore formation and cell lysis. Negatively-charged heparan sulphate (HS) and chondroitin sulphate (CS) have been shown to inhibit the cytotoxic effect of ACPs. In this study, we propose a strategy to promote the broad utilization of ACPs. In this context, we developed a drug repositioning pipeline to analyse transcriptomics data generated for four different cancer cell lines (A549, HEPG2, HT29, and MCF7) treated with hundreds of drugs in the LINCS L1000 project. Based on previous studies identifying genes modulating levels of the glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) HS and CS at the cell surface, our analysis aimed at identifying drugs inhibiting genes correlated with high HS and CS levels. As a result, we identified six chemicals as likely repositionable drugs with the potential to enhance the performance of ACPs. The codes in R and Python programming languages are publicly available in As a conclusion, these six drugs are highlighted as excellent targets for synergistic studies with ACPs aimed at lowering the costs associated with ACP-treatment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBiotechnology Journal
Issue number1
Early online date14 Nov 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Nov 2021


  • cancer
  • drug repositioning
  • heparan sulfate
  • LINCS L1000
  • therapeutic peptides


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