[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are versatile tools for the intracellular delivery of various biomolecules, including siRNA. Recently, CPPs were introduced that showed greatly enhanced delivery efficiency. However, the molecular basis of this increased activity is poorly understood. Here, we performed a detailed analysis of the molecular and physico-chemical properties of seven different siRNA-CPP nanoparticles. In addition we determined which complexes are internalized most efficiently into the leukaemia cell-line SKNO-1, and subsequently inhibited the expression of a luciferase reporter gene. We demonstrated effective complexation of siRNA for all tested CPPs and optimal encapsulation of the siRNA was achieved at very similar molar ratios independent of peptide charge. However, CPPs with an extreme high or low overall charge proved to be exceptions, suggesting an optimal range of charge for CPP-siRNA nanoparticle formation based on opposite charge. The most active CPP (PepFect6) displayed high serum resistance but also high sensitivity to decomplexation by polyanionic macromolecules, indicating the necessity for partial decomplexation for efficient uptake. Surprisingly, CPP-siRNA complexes acquired a negative zeta-potential in the presence of serum. These novel insights shed light on the observation that cell association is necessary but not sufficient for activity and motivate new research into the nature of the nanoparticle-cell interaction. Overall, our results provide a comprehensive molecular basis for the further development of peptide-based oligonucleotide transfection agents.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) promote the uptake of different cargo molecules, e.g. therapeutic compounds, making the harnessing of CPPs a promising strategy for drug design and delivery. However, the internalization mechanisms of CPPs are still under discussion, and it is not clear how cells compensate the disturbances induced by peptides in the plasma membrane. In this study, we demonstrate that the uptake of various CPPs enhances the intracellular Ca(2+) levels in Jurkat and HeLa cells. The elevated Ca(2+) concentration in turn triggers plasma membrane blebbing, lysosomal exocytosis, and membrane repair response. Our results indicate that CPPs split into two major classes: (i) amphipathic CPPs that modulate the plasma membrane integrity inducing influx of Ca(2+) and activating downstream responses starting from low concentrations; (ii) non-amphipathic CPPs that do not evoke changes at relevant concentrations. Triggering of the membrane repair response may help cells to replace distorted plasma membrane regions and cells can recover from the influx of Ca(2+) if its level is not drastically elevated.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 03/2012; 287(20):16880-9. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are short transport peptides with a well-established ability for delivery of bioactive cargoes inside the cells both, in vitro and in vivo. CPPs enter unselectively in a wide variety of cell lines, this is a desirable property for most in vitro applications, however, in vivo e.g. in tumor models, specific targeted accumulation is required. In order to achieve tumor targeting, a known CPP, YTA4, was modified by prolonging it C-terminally with mainly negatively charged amino acids. Additionally, a matrix metalloproteinase-2 cleavage site was introduced between the CPP and the inactivating sequence. This new peptide, named NoPe, is an inactive pro-form of YTA4. It can be selectively cleaved and thereby activated by MMPs. We have conjugated an imaging agent, fluoresceinyl carboxylic acid, and a cytostatic agent methotrexate, to this activable pro-form. NoPe activation was demonstrated in vitro by recombinant MMP-2 cleavage and the cleavage of the attenuating sequence was abolished with MMP-2 specific inhibitor. Furthermore, the fluoresceinyl-NoPe is selectively accumulated in the tumor tissue in MDA-MB-231 tumor bearing mice after intravenous injection. Thus, this strategy proves to be successful for in vivo tumor imaging.
International Journal of Peptide Research and Therapeutics 01/2012; 18(4). · 1.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Highlights
► Cationic CPPs consisting of L- and D-amino acids differ in uptake efficiency ► The more efficient uptake of L-CPPs occurs only in certain cell types ► D-CPPs and L-CPPs bind heparan sulfates with comparable affinities ► The results identify chirality as a potential principle for cell-specific targeting
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The use of protease-resistant D-peptides is a prominent strategy for overcoming proteolytic sensitivity in the use of cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) as delivery vectors. So far, no major differences have been reported for the uptake of L- and D-peptides. Here we report that cationic L-CPPs are taken up more efficiently than their D-counterparts in MC57 fibrosarcoma and HeLa cells but not in Jurkat T leukemia cells. Reduced uptake of D-peptides co-occurred with persistent binding to heparan sulfates (HS) at the plasma membrane. In vitro binding studies of L- and D-peptides with HS indicated similar binding affinities. Our results identify two key events in the uptake of CPPs: binding to HS chains and the initiation of internalization. Only the second event depends on the chirality of the CPP. This knowledge may be exploited for a stereochemistry-dependent preferential targeting of cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Numerous human genetic diseases are caused by mutations that give rise to aberrant alternative splicing. Recently, several of these debilitating disorders have been shown to be amenable for splice-correcting oligonucleotides (SCOs) that modify splicing patterns and restore the phenotype in experimental models. However, translational approaches are required to transform SCOs into usable drug products. In this study, we present a new cell-penetrating peptide, PepFect14 (PF14), which efficiently delivers SCOs to different cell models including HeLa pLuc705 and mdx mouse myotubes; a cell culture model of Duchenne's muscular dystrophy (DMD). Non-covalent PF14-SCO nanocomplexes induce splice-correction at rates higher than the commercially available lipid-based vector Lipofectamine 2000 (LF2000) and remain active in the presence of serum. Furthermore, we demonstrate the feasibility of incorporating this delivery system into solid formulations that could be suitable for several therapeutic applications. Solid dispersion technique is utilized and the formed solid formulations are as active as the freshly prepared nanocomplexes in solution even when stored at an elevated temperatures for several weeks. In contrast, LF2000 drastically loses activity after being subjected to same procedure. This shows that using PF14 is a very promising translational approach for the delivery of SCOs in different pharmaceutical forms.
Nucleic Acids Research 02/2011; 39(12):5284-98. · 8.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: As more and more studies utilize cell-penetrating peptides to deliver pharmacologically interesting substances, there is a growing need to understand their effect on the plasma membrane. If a cell-penetrating peptide together with its cargo is to be used as a drug, it is necessary to understand how the conjugate interacts with the plasma membrane to enter the cell. A key regulator of the transportation network in the cell is calcium. This chapter describes five methods that can be employed for understanding how the plasma membrane reacts to the presence of cell-penetrating peptides and the involvement of calcium.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite increasing interest in cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) as carriers for drugs and in gene therapy, the current understanding of their exact internalization mechanism is still far from complete. The cellular translocation of CPPs and their payloads has been mostly described by fluorescence- and activity-based methods, leaving the more detailed characterization at the ultrastructural level almost out of attention. Herein, we used transmission electron microscopy to characterize the membrane interaction and internalization of a cell-penetrating peptide S4(13)-PV. We demonstrate that S4(13)-PV peptide forms spherical nanoparticle-like regular structures upon association with cell surface glycosaminoglycans on the plasma membrane. Insertion of S4(13)-PV particles into plasma membrane induces disturbances and leads to the vesicular uptake of peptides by cells. We propose that for efficient cellular translocation S4(13)-PV peptides have to assemble into particles of specific size and shape. The spherical peptide particles are not dissociated in intracellular vesicles but often retain their organization and remain associated with the membrane of vesicles, destabilizing them and promoting the escape of peptides into cytosol. Lowering the temperature and inhibition of dynamins' activity reduce the internalization of S4(13)-PV peptides, but do not block it completely. Our results provide an ultrastructural insight into the interaction mode of CPPs with the plasma membrane and the distribution in cells, which might help to better understand how CPPs cross the biological membranes and gain access into cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although cell-penetrating peptides are able to deliver cargo into cells, their uptake mechanism is still not fully understood and needs to be elucidated to improve their delivery efficiency. Herein, we present evidence of a new mechanism involved in uptake, the membrane repair response. Recent studies have suggested that there might be a direct penetration of peptides in parallel with different forms of endocytosis. The direct penetration of hydrophilic peptides through the hydrophobic plasma membrane, however, is highly controversial. Three proteins involved in target cell apoptosis--perforin, granulysin, and granzymes--share many features common in uptake of cell-penetrating peptides (e.g., they bind proteoglycans). During perforin uptake, the protein activates the membrane repair response, a resealing mechanism triggered in cells with injured plasma membrane, because of extracellular calcium influx. On activation of the membrane repair response, internal vesicles are mobilized to the site of the disrupted plasma membrane, resealing it within seconds. In this study, we have used flow cytometry, fluorescence, and electron microscopy, together with high-performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry, to present evidence that the membrane repair response is able to mask damages caused during cell-penetrating peptide uptake, thus preventing leakage of endogenous molecules out of the cell.
The FASEB Journal 10/2008; 23(1):214-23. · 5.70 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The production of bacterial ghosts involves the lysis gene E plasmid in order to lyse and empty the bacteria of their cytoplasmic contents. After lysis the ghosts can either be loaded with new desired DNA and used for delivery to mammalian cells or used in vaccination. Cell-penetrating peptides have been used as delivery vehicles of drugs and oligonucleotides. Although many of them show low toxicity they have been compared to antimicrobial peptides involved in innate immunity. Recently we showed that cell-penetrating peptides also could be antimicrobial. In this study we take advantage of the antimicrobial effect of one cell-penetrating peptide, namely MAP, which is a model amphipathic peptide and treat bacteria with the peptide to produce bacterial ghosts. This new peptide based strategy is not dependent on the lysis gene E plasmid thus; several tiresome steps are removed in the production of ghosts. In addition the ghosts can be preloaded with a desired plasmid or DNA further removing time consuming reprocessing steps. To our knowledge this is the first study that uses a cell-penetrating peptide based strategy to produce bacterial ghosts to be used in plasmid delivery.
Journal of Controlled Release 09/2008; 132(1):49-54. · 7.63 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell-penetrating peptide mediated uptake of labels appears to follow an equilibrium-like process. However, this assumption is only valid if the peptides are stabile. Hence, in this study we investigate intracellular and extracellular peptide degradation kinetics of two fluorescein labeled cell-penetrating peptides, namely MAP and penetratin, in Chinese hamster ovarian cells. The degradation and uptake kinetics were assessed by RP-HPLC equipped with a fluorescence detector. We show that MAP and penetratin are rapidly degraded both extracellularly and intracellularly giving rise to several degradation products. Kinetics indicates that intracellularly, the peptides exist in (at least) two distinct pools: one that is immediately degraded and one that is stabile. Moreover, the degradation could be decreased by treating the peptides with BSA and phenanthroline and the uptake was significantly reduced by cytochalasin B, chloroquine and energy depletion. The results indicate that the extracellular degradation determines the intracellular peptide concentration in this system and therefore the stability of cell-penetrating peptides needs to be evaluated.
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 08/2007; 1768(7):1769-76. · 4.66 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are carriers developed to improve mammalian cell uptake of important research tools such as antisense oligonucleotides and short interfering RNAs. However, the data on CPP uptake into non-mammalian cells are limited. We have studied the uptake and antimicrobial effects of the three representative peptides penetratin (derived from a non-mammalian protein), MAP (artificial peptide) and pVEC (derived from a mammalian protein) using fluorescence HPLC in four common model systems: insect cells (Sf9), gram-positive bacteria (Bacillus megaterium), gram-negative bacteria (Escherichia coli) and yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). We demonstrate that non-mammalian cells internalize CPPs and a comparison of the uptake of the peptides show that the intracellular concentration and degradation of the peptides varies widely among organisms. In addition, these CPPs showed antimicrobial activity.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Resistance to chemotherapy limits the effectiveness of anti-cancer drug treatment. Here, we present a new approach to overcome the setback of drug resistance by designing a conjugate of a cell-penetrating peptide and the cytostatic agent methotrexate (MTX). Two different peptides, YTA2 and YTA4, were designed and their intracellular delivery efficiency was characterized by fluorescence microscopy and quantified by fluorometry. MTX was conjugated to the transport peptides and the ability of the peptide-MTX conjugates to inhibit dihydrofolate reductase, the target enzyme of MTX, was found to be 15 and 20 times less potent than MTX. In addition, in vitro studies were performed in a drug resistant cell model using the 100-fold MTX resistant breast cancer cells MDA-MB-231. At a concentration of 1 microM, the peptide-MTX conjugates were shown to overcome MTX resistance and kill the cells more efficiently than MTX alone. Estimated EC50's were determined for MTX, MTX-YTA2 and YTA2 to be 18.5, 3.8 and 20 microM, respectively. In summary, cell-penetrating peptide conjugation of MTX is a new way of increasing delivery, and thereby, the potency of already well-characterized therapeutic molecules into drug resistant tumour cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The uptake of different cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) in two yeast species, Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Candida albicans, was studied using fluorescence HPLC-analyses of cell content. Comparison of the ability of penetratin, pVEC and (KFF)(3)K to traverse the yeast cell envelope shows that the cellular uptake of the peptides varies widely. Moreover, the intracellular degradation of the CPPs studied varies from complete stability to complete degradation. We show that intracellular degradation into membrane impermeable products can significantly contribute to the fluorescence signal. pVEC displayed highest internalizing capacity, and considering its stability in both yeast species, it is an attractive candidate for further studies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell-penetrating peptides, CPPs, are used as delivery vectors for pharmacologically interesting substances, such as antisense
oligonucleotides, proteins and peptides. We present a general principle for designing cell-penetrating peptides derived from
naturally occurring proteins as well as from randomly generated polyamino acid sequences. Thereby, we introduce a novel pharmacological
principle for identification of cell-penetrating peptides for which the applications can be numerous, including cellular transduction
vectors and mimics of intracellular protein–protein interactions. The methods of identifying a CPP comprises assessing the
averaged bulk property values of the defined sequence, and ensuring that they fall within the bulk property value interval
obtained from the training set. Despite this simplistic approach, the search criteria proved useful for finding CPP properties
in either proteins or random sequences. We have experimentally verified cell-penetrating properties of 10–20-mer peptides
derived from naturally occurring proteins as well as from random poly-amino acids. We note that since CPPs can be found in
part of the protein sequences that may govern protein interactions, it is possible to produce cell-penetrating protein agonists
International Journal of Peptide Research and Therapeutics 01/2005; 11(4):249-259. · 1.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The use of powdered metallic zinc in acidic solution for the reduction of disulfide bonds in peptides and proteins has been investigated. The method has several advantages over the traditional mercapto based reducing methods currently used; the reducing agent is readily available and inexpensive; reduction can be performed in weakly acidic solutions of water and/or acetonitrile; work up simply consists of a centrifugation step followed by pipeting the supernatant from the metal pellet, thereby greatly diminishing the risk of reoxidation as a more elaborate work up procedure could result in. As no mercapto compounds are added, there is no risk that the reducing agent will interfere in subsequent modification of the thiol functionality. Disulfides in a model peptide are reduced within 5 min in any mixture of water/acetonitrile containing 1% TFA, all disulfides in insulin is reduced within 1 h in any mixture of water/acetonitrile containing 5% acetic acid. To stress the convenience of the metallic zinc reduction method, the resulting thiol compound was subjected to two commonly employed reactions in peptide chemistry: Cys(Npys) directed disulfide formation (70% yield) and native chemical ligation between the reduced model peptide and Boc-Ala-p-metylthiobenzyl ester (65% yield of the ligation product plus disulfide formation between Cys and p-thiocresol).
International Journal of Peptide Research and Therapeutics 01/2005; 11(4):261-265. · 1.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The influence of the peptide-to-cell ratio and energy depletion on uptake and degradation of the cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) MAP (model amphipathic peptide) was investigated. The intracellular concentration of the CPPs, MAP and penetratin was monitored while varying the number of cells at fixed peptide concentration and incubation volume, or changing the concentration and incubation volume at fixed cell number. The uptake of CPPs was shown to be dependent on the peptide/cell ratio. At given peptide concentration and incubation volume, the intracellular concentration of peptide increased with lower cell number. At given cell number, doubling of the incubation volume increased intracellular peptide concentration to a similar extent as the doubling in incubation concentration. From a practical view, this means that the peptide/cell ratio has at least the same importance for the uptake of CPPs as the used peptide concentration. No influence of the peptide/cell ratio was found for the cellular uptake of peptide nucleic acid (PNA), or a non-amphipathic MAP analogue, investigated in parallel for comparison purposes. Energy depletion resulted in significantly reduced quantities of intracellular fluorescence label. Moreover, we show that this difference is mainly due to a membrane-impermeable fluorescent-labelled degradation product, which is lacking in energy-depleted cells. The mechanism of its generation is not likely to be endosomal degradation of endocytosed material, as it is not chloroquine- or brefeldin-sensitive.
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 01/2005; 1667(2):222-8. · 4.66 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell-penetrating peptides have proven themselves as valuable vectors for intracellular delivery. Relatively little is known
about the frequency of cell-penetrating sequences in native proteins and their functional role. By computational comparison
of peptide sequences, we recently predicted that intracellular loops of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR) have high probability
for occurrence of cell-penetrating motifs. Since the loops are also receptor and G-protein interaction sites, we postulated
that the short cell-penetrating peptides, derived from GPCR, when applied extracellularly can pass the membrane and modulate
G-protein activity similarly to parent receptor proteins. Two model systems were analyzed as proofs of the principle. A peptide
based on the C-terminal intracellular sequence of the rat angiotensin receptor (AT1AR) is shown to internalize into live cells
and elicit blood vessel contraction even in the presence of AT1AR antagonist Sar1-Thr8-angiotensin II. The peptide interacts with the same selectivity towards G-protein subtypes as agonist-activated AT1AR and
blockade of phospholipase C abolishes its effect. Another cell-penetrating peptide, G53-2 derived from human glucagon-like
peptide receptor (GLP-1R) is shown to induce insulin release from isolated pancreatic islets. The mechanism was again found
to be shared with the original GLP-1R, namely G11-mediated inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate release pathway. These data reveal a novel possibility to mimic the effects of signalling
transmembrane proteins by application of shorter peptide fragments.
International Journal of Peptide Research and Therapeutics 01/2005; 11(4):237-247. · 1.28 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Antimicrobial drug action is limited by both microbial and host cell membranes. Microbes stringently exclude the entry of most drugs, and mammalian membranes limit drug distribution and access to intracellular pathogens. Recently, cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) have been developed as carriers to improve mammalian cell uptake. Given that CPPs are cationic and often amphipathic, similar to membrane active antimicrobial peptides, it may be possible to use CPP activity to improve drug delivery to microbes. Here, two CPPs, TP10 and pVEC, were found to enter a range of bacteria and fungi. The uptake route involves rapid surface accumulation within minutes followed by cell entry. TP10 inhibited Candida albicans and Staphylococcus aureus growth, and pVEC inhibited Mycobacterium smegmatis growth at low micromolar doses, below the levels that harmed human HeLa cells. Therefore, although TP10 and pVEC entered all cell types tested, they preferentially damage microbes, and this effect was sufficient to clear HeLa cell cultures from noninvasive S. aureus infection. Also, conversion of the cytotoxicity indicator dye SYTOX Green showed that TP10 causes rapid and lethal permeabilization of S. aureus and pVEC permeabilizes M. smegmatis, but not HeLa cells. Therefore, TP10 and pVEC can enter both mammalian and microbial cells and preferentially permeabilize and kill microbes.
The FASEB Journal 03/2004; 18(2):394-6. · 5.70 Impact Factor