Endostatin, the 20-kDa C-terminal NC1 domain of collagen XVIII, is an endogenous inhibitor of tumor angiogenesis and tumor growth. A major problem in reconciling the many reported in vitro effects of endostatin is the lack of a high-affinity receptor, and a search for the latter continues. In accordance with the above, the molecular mechanisms of action of endostatin remain elusive. We show here that endostatin binds to membranes containing acidic phospholipids, phosphatidylserine (PS) or phosphatidylglycerol (PG). More specifically, a red shift in the fluorescence ernission of Trp of endostatin in the presence of liposomes containing these anionic lipids was evident, revealing the average environment of Trps to become less hydrophobic. This shift was not observed for phosphatidylcholine (PC) liposomes, demonstrating the acidic lipid to be required. Quenching by endostatin of the fluorescence of a pyrene-labeled phospholipid analogue in PS containing membranes was seen, while there was no effect for PC liposomes. Resonance energy transfer from the Trp residues of endostatin to a dansyl-labeled phospholipid further confirmed the association of endostatin with PS-containing membranes, whereas there was no binding to PC liposomes. Intriguingly, the association of endostatin with PS-containing liposomes triggered the formation of fibers, with Congo red staining producing green birefringence characteristic for amyloid. Lipid was incorporated into these fibers, as shown by staining when a trace amount (X=0.02) of fluorescent phospholipid analogues was present in the liposomes. No fiber formation was seen when endostatin was added to liposomes composed of PC only. Because PS has been reported to be exposed in the outer surface of the plasma membrane of cancer cells and vascular endothelial cells, our results suggest that this lipid could represent a target for endostatin in the cancer cell surface and tumors, thus suggesting a novel mechanism of its action. More specifically, analogous to a number of other cytotoxic proteins interacting with negatively charged lipids, PS-triggered fiber formation by endostatin on the surface of cancer cells Would impair the permeability barrier function of the plasma membrane, resulting in cell death.
Zhao, H., Jutila, A., Nurminen, T., Wickström, S. A., Keski-Oja, J., & Kinnunen, P. (2005). Binding of endostatin to phosphatidylserine-containing membranes and formation of amyloid-like fibers. Biochemistry, 44, 2857-2863. https://doi.org/10.1021/bi048510j