Engineering an enhanced thrombin-based GLP-1 analog with long-lasting glucose-lowering and efficient weight reduction
Peptides are considered as potent therapeutic drugs primarily due to the exquisite potency and selectivity to targets. However, the development and clinical application of peptide drugs were severely limited by the poor in vivo lifespans. Here, we designed an improved small albumin-binding polypeptide that can associate with human serum albumin (HSA) and liberate the bioactive peptide. Using glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) as a model, two new long-lasting GLP-1 analogs (termed XTS1 and XTS2) containing an albumin-binding domain, a protease-cleavable linker and a mutated GLP-1(A8Aib) were designed to demonstrate the sustained release of GLP-1 due to the plasma thrombin (TBN) digestion. Two XTS peptides were prepared of high purity (>99%) and accurate molecular weight determined by reversed high-performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry, respectively. In vitro measurements of surface plasmon resonance indicated that XTS1 associate with serum albumins of all species with higher affinity compared with XTS2. Metabolic stability of XTS1 in vitro in human plasma was also better than that of XTS2. Protease cleavage assay results of XTS peptides demonstrated the controlled-release of transient GLP-1 from the XTS1 and XTS2 mixture after thrombin-catalyzed hydrolysis. Then the intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test (IPGTT) showed that the glucose-lowering efficacies of XTS1 were in a dosage-dependent manner within the range of 0.1–0.9 mg kg−1. In addition, XTS1 showed similar hypoglycemic intensity and significantly longer action duration compared to Liraglutide in both multiple IPGTTs and hypoglycemic duration test. Apparently extended plasma half-lives of ∼2.3 and ∼3.5 days were observed after a single subcutaneous administration of XTS1 (0.9 mg kg−1) in rats and cynomolgus monkeys, respectively. Furthermore, twice-weekly subcutaneously dosed XTS1 in db/db mice achieved long-term beneficial effects on body weight, hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) lowering and the function of pancreatic beta cells. These studies support that XTS1 exerts potential as a therapeutic drug for the treatment of T2DM.