Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 3 (VEGFR-3) supports tumor lymphangiogenesis. It was originally identified as a lymphangiogenic factor expressed in lymphatic endothelial cells. VEGFR-3 was detected in advanced human malignancies and correlated with poor prognosis. Our previous studies show that activation of the VEGF-C/VEGFR-3 axis promotes cancer metastasis and is associated with clinical progression in patients with lung cancer, indicating that VEGFR-3 is a potential target for cancer therapy. In this study, we developed eight peptides targeting VEGFR-3. Two peptides strongly inhibited the kinase activity of VEGFR-3 and suppressed VEGF-C-mediated invasion of cancer cells. Moreover, these peptides abolished VEGF-C-induced drug resistance and tumor initiating cell formation. This study demonstrates the therapeutic potential of VEGFR-3-targeting peptides.
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