Biochimica et biophysica acta

Bovine lactoferrin binds oleic acid to form an anti-tumor complex similar to HAMLET.

PMID 24368211


α-Lactalbumin (α-LA) can bind oleic acid (OA) to form HAMLET-like complexes, which exhibited highly selective anti-tumor activity in vitro and in vivo. Considering the structural similarity to α-LA, we conjectured that lactoferrin (LF) could also bind OA to obtain a complex with anti-tumor activity. In this study, LF-OA was prepared and its activity and structural changes were compared with α-LA-OA. The anti-tumor activity was evaluated by methylene blue assay, while the apoptosis mechanism was analyzed using flow cytometry and Western blot. Structural changes of LF-OA were measured by fluorescence spectroscopy and circular dichroism. The interactions of OA with LF and α-LA were evaluated by isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). LF-OA was obtained by heat-treatment at pH8.0 with LD50 of 4.88, 4.95 and 4.62μM for HepG2, HT29, and MCF-7 cells, respectively, all of which were 10 times higher than those of α-LA-OA. Similar to HAMLET, LF-OA induced apoptosis in tumor cells through both death receptor- and mitochondrial-mediated pathways. Exposure of tryptophan residues and the hydrophobic regions as well as the loss of tertiary structure were observed in LF-OA. Besides these similarities, LF showed different secondary structure changes when compared with α-LA, with a decrease of α-helix and β-turn and an increase of β-sheet and random coil. ITC results showed that there was a higher binding number of OA to LF than to α-LA, while both of the proteins interacted with OA through van der Waals forces and hydrogen bonds. This study provides a theoretical basis for further exploration of protein-OA complexes.