This is the first report on the modification of a hemocyanin from Helix lucorum (HlH), a large molluscan respiratory protein, with folic acid (FA). In a two-step synthetic reaction, we prepared samples of HlH conjugated with 20 and 50 FA residues denoted as FA-HlH-1 and FA-HlH-2, respectively. Comparison of the attenuated total reflectance–Fourier transform infrared spectra in the amide I band region showed a structural rearrangement in the HlH that is due to FA conjugation. The changes in the secondary structure were more noticeable for FA-HlH-2. The thermal stability of HlH was not significantly affected by the FA modification, which is consistent with the observed structural similarities with the native protein. Preliminary cytotoxicity assays showed that FA-HlH-1 and FA-HlH-2 stimulate fibroblast proliferation when applied in concentrations of 50 and 100 μg/well. A negligible reduction of fibroblast growth was observed only for FA-HlH-1 and FA-HlH-2, exposed to 200 μg/well for 48 h. We found that FA-HlH-2 exhibits a low to moderate cytotoxic effect on two breast cancer cell lines, which express folate receptors, a hormone-dependent (MCF-7) and a hormone-independent (MDA-MB-231). FA-HlH-2 protects nontransformed cells and affects only neoplastic cells, which could be an advantage, and the protein could have potential in combination with other chemotherapeutics.
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A Journal of Biosciences: Zeitschrift für Naturforschung C (ZNC) is an international scientific journal for the emerging field of natural and natural-like products. ZNC publishes original research on the isolation, bio-chemical synthesis and bioactivities of natural products, their biochemistry, pharmacology, biotechnology, and biological activity and innovative developed computational methods for predicting their structure and/or function.