Type: Journal Article
Reference: Petrohilos, C., Patchett, A., Hogg, C.J. et al. Tasmanian devil cathelicidins exhibit anticancer activity against Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) cells. Science Report 13, 12698 (2023). doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-39901-0
The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is endangered due to the spread of Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD), a contagious cancer with no current treatment options. Here we test whether seven recently characterized Tasmanian devil cathelicidins are involved in cancer regulation. We measured DFTD cell viability in vitro following incubation with each of the seven peptides and describe the effect of each on gene expression in treated cells. Four cathelicidins (Saha-CATH3, 4, 5 and 6) were toxic to DFTD cells and caused general signs of cellular stress. The most toxic peptide (Saha-CATH5) also suppressed the ERBB and YAP1/TAZ signaling pathways, both of which have been identified as important drivers of cancer proliferation. Three cathelicidins induced inflammatory pathways in DFTD cells that may potentially recruit immune cells in vivo. This study suggests that devil cathelicidins have some anti-cancer and inflammatory functions and should be explored further to determine whether they have potential as treatment leads.