Chemokine signaling through CCR3 is a key regulatory pathway for eosinophil recruitment into tissues associated with allergic inflammation and asthma. To date, none of the CCR3 antagonists have shown efficacy in clinical trials. One reason might be their unbiased mode of inhibition that prevents receptor internalization, leading to drug tolerance.
We sought to develop a novel peptide nanoparticle CCR3 inhibitor (R321) with a biased mode of inhibition that would block G protein signaling but enable or promote receptor internalization.
Self-assembly of R321 peptide into nanoparticles and peptide binding to CCR3 were analyzed by means of dynamic light scattering and nuclear magnetic resonance. Inhibitory activity on CCR3 signaling was assessed in vitro by using flow cytometry, confocal microscopy, and Western blot analysis in a CCR3+ eosinophil cell line and blood eosinophils. In vivo effects of R321 were assessed by using a triple-allergen mouse asthma model.
R321 self-assembles into nanoparticles and binds directly to CCR3, altering receptor function. Half-maximal inhibitory concentration values for eotaxin-induced chemotaxis of blood eosinophils are in the low nanomolar range. R321 inhibits only the early phase of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 activation and not the late phase generally associated with β-arrestin recruitment and receptor endocytosis, promoting CCR3 internalization and degradation. In vivo R321 effectively blocks eosinophil recruitment into the blood, lungs, and airways and prevents airway hyperresponsiveness in a mouse eosinophilic asthma model.
R321 is a potent and selective antagonist of the CCR3 signaling cascade. Inhibition through a biased mode of antagonism might hold significant therapeutic promise by eluding the formation of drug tolerance.