Translocation and endocytosis for cell-penetrating peptide internalization.
ABSTRACT: Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) share the property of cellular internalization. The question of how these peptides reach the cytoplasm of cells is still widely debated. Herein, we have used a mass spectrometry-based method that enables quantification of internalized and membrane-bound peptides. Internalization of the most used CPP was studied at 37 degrees C (endocytosis and translocation) and 4 degrees C (translocation) in wild type and proteoglycan-deficient Chinese hamster ovary cells. Both translocation and endocytosis are internalization pathways used by CPP. The choice of one pathway versus the other depends on the peptide sequence (not the number of positive changes), the extracellular peptide concentration, and the membrane components. There is no relationship between the high affinity of these peptides for the cell membrane and their internalization efficacy. Translocation occurs at low extracellular peptide concentration, whereas endocytosis, a saturable and cooperative phenomenon, is activated at higher concentrations. Translocation operates in a narrow time window, which implies a specific lipid/peptide co-import in cells.
Project description:Cell penetrating peptides (CPP) and cationic antibacterial peptides (CAP) have similar physicochemical properties and yet it is not understood how such similar peptides display different activities. To address this question, we used Iztli peptide 1 (IP-1) because it has both CPP and CAP activities. Combining experimental and computational modeling of the internalization of IP-1, we show it is not internalized by receptor-mediated endocytosis, yet it permeates into many different cell types, including fungi and human cells. We also show that IP-1 makes pores in the presence of high electrical potential at the membrane, such as those found in bacteria and mitochondria. These results provide the basis to understand the functional redundancy of CPPs and CAPs.
Project description:Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) allow intracellular delivery of bioactive cargo molecules. The mechanisms allowing CPPs to enter cells are ill-defined. Using a CRISPR/Cas9-based screening, we discovered that KCNQ5, KCNN4, and KCNK5 potassium channels positively modulate cationic CPP direct translocation into cells by decreasing the transmembrane potential (V<sub>m</sub>). These findings provide the first unbiased genetic validation of the role of V<sub>m</sub> in CPP translocation in cells. In silico modeling and live cell experiments indicate that CPPs, by bringing positive charges on the outer surface of the plasma membrane, decrease the V<sub>m</sub> to very low values (-150 mV or less), a situation we have coined megapolarization that then triggers formation of water pores used by CPPs to enter cells. Megapolarization lowers the free energy barrier associated with CPP membrane translocation. Using dyes of varying dimensions in CPP co-entry experiments, the diameter of the water pores in living cells was estimated to be 2 (-5) nm, in accordance with the structural characteristics of the pores predicted by in silico modeling. Pharmacological manipulation to lower transmembrane potential boosted CPP cellular internalization in zebrafish and mouse models. Besides identifying the first proteins that regulate CPP translocation, this work characterized key mechanistic steps used by CPPs to cross cellular membranes. This opens the ground for strategies aimed at improving the ability of cells to capture CPP-linked cargos in vitro and in vivo.
Project description:The mechanism of cell-penetrating peptides entry into cells is unclear, preventing the development of more efficient vectors for biotechnological or therapeutic purposes. Here, we developed a protocol relying on fluorometry to distinguish endocytosis from direct membrane translocation, using Penetratin, TAT and R9. The quantities of internalized CPPs measured by fluorometry in cell lysates converge with those obtained by our previously reported mass spectrometry quantification method. By contrast, flow cytometry quantification faces several limitations due to fluorescence quenching processes that depend on the cell line and occur at peptide/cell ratio >6.10<sup>8</sup> for CF-Penetratin. The analysis of cellular internalization of a doubly labeled fluorescent and biotinylated Penetratin analogue by the two independent techniques, fluorometry and mass spectrometry, gave consistent results at the quantitative and qualitative levels. Both techniques revealed the use of two alternative translocation and endocytosis pathways, whose relative efficacy depends on cell-surface sugars and peptide concentration. We confirmed that Penetratin translocates at low concentration and uses endocytosis at high μM concentrations. We further demonstrate that the hydrophobic/hydrophilic nature of the N-terminal extremity impacts on the internalization efficiency of CPPs. We expect these results and the associated protocols to help unraveling the translocation pathway to the cytosol of cells.
Project description:Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs), such as the HIV TAT peptide, are able to translocate across cellular membranes efficiently. A number of mechanisms, from direct entry to various endocytotic mechanisms (both receptor independent and receptor dependent), have been observed but how these specific amino acid sequences accomplish these effects is unknown. We show how CPP sequences can multiplex interactions with the membrane, the actin cytoskeleton, and cell-surface receptors to facilitate different translocation pathways under different conditions. Using "nunchuck" CPPs, we demonstrate that CPPs permeabilize membranes by generating topologically active saddle-splay ("negative Gaussian") membrane curvature through multidentate hydrogen bonding of lipid head groups. This requirement for negative Gaussian curvature constrains but underdetermines the amino acid content of CPPs. We observe that in most CPP sequences decreasing arginine content is offset by a simultaneous increase in lysine and hydrophobic content. Moreover, by densely organizing cationic residues while satisfying the above constraint, TAT peptide is able to combine cytoskeletal remodeling activity with membrane translocation activity. We show that the TAT peptide can induce structural changes reminiscent of macropinocytosis in actin-encapsulated giant vesicles without receptors.
Project description:Cationic cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are a promising vehicle for the delivery of macromolecular drugs. Although many studies have indicated that CPPs enter cells by endocytosis, the mechanisms by which they cross endosomal membranes remain elusive. On the basis of experiments with liposomes, we propose that CPP escape into the cytosol is based on leaky fusion (i.e., fusion associated with the permeabilization of membranes) of the bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate (BMP)-enriched membranes of late endosomes. In our experiments, prototypic CPP HIV-1 TAT peptide did not interact with liposomes mimicking the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane, but it did induce lipid mixing and membrane leakage as it translocated into liposomes mimicking the lipid composition of late endosome. Both membrane leakage and lipid mixing depended on the BMP content and were promoted at acidic pH, which is characteristic of late endosomes. Substitution of BMP with its structural isomer, phosphatidylglycerol (PG), significantly reduced both leakage of the aqueous probe from liposomes and lipid mixing between liposomes. Although affinity of binding to TAT was similar for BMP and PG, BMP exhibited a higher tendency to support the inverted hexagonal phase than PG. Finally, membrane leakage and peptide translocation were both inhibited by inhibitors of lipid mixing, further substantiating the hypothesis that cationic peptides cross BMP-enriched membranes by inducing leaky fusion between them.
Project description:The plasma membrane plays an essential role in selective permeability, compartmentalization, osmotic balance, and cellular uptake. The characteristics and functions of cyanobacterial membranes have been extensively investigated in recent years. Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are special nanocarriers that can overcome the plasma membrane barrier and enter cells directly, either alone or with associated cargoes. However, the cellular entry mechanisms of CPPs in cyanobacteria have not been studied.In the present study, we determine CPP-mediated transduction efficiency and internalization mechanisms in cyanobacteria using a combination of biological and biophysical methods. We demonstrate that both Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 and Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 strains of cyanobacteria possess red autofluorescence. Green fluorescent protein (GFP), either alone or noncovalently associated with a CPP comprised of nine arginine residues (R9/GFP complexes), entered cyanobacteria. The ATP-depleting inhibitor of classical endocytosis, N-ethylmaleimide (NEM), could block the spontaneous internalization of GFP, but not the transduction of R9/GFP complexes. Three specific inhibitors of macropinocytosis, cytochalasin D (CytD), 5-(N-ethyl-N-isopropyl)-amiloride (EIPA), and wortmannin, reduced the efficiency of R9/GFP complex transduction, indicating that entry of R9/GFP complexes involves macropinocytosis. Both the 1-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-3,5-diphenylformazan (MTT) and membrane leakage analyses confirmed that R9/GFP complexes were not toxic to the cyanobacteria, nor were the endocytic and macropinocytic inhibitors used in these studies.In summary, we have demonstrated that cyanobacteria use classical endocytosis and macropinocytosis to internalize exogenous GFP and CPP/GFP proteins, respectively. Moreover, the CPP-mediated delivery system is not toxic to cyanobacteria, and can be used to investigate biological processes at the cellular level in this species. These results suggest that both endocytic and macropinocytic pathways can be used for efficient internalization of regular protein and CPP-mediated protein delivery in cyanobacteria, respectively.
Project description:Peptides can be used as research tools and for diagnostic or therapeutic applications. Peptides, alongside small molecules and antibodies, are used and are gaining further interest as protein-protein interaction (PPI) modulators. Peptides have high target specificity and high affinity, but, unlike small molecule modulators, they are not able to cross the cell membranes to reach their intracellular targets. To overcome this limitation, the special property of the cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) could benefit their cause. CPPs are a class of peptides that can enter the cells and with them also deliver the attached cargoes. Today, with the advancement of in silico prediction tools and the availability of protein databases, designing new and multifunctional peptides that are able to reach intracellular targets and inhibit certain cellular processes in a very specific manner is reachable. Although there are several efficient CPP sequences already known, the discovery of new CPPs is crucial for the development of efficient delivery methods for both biotechnological and therapeutic applications. In this work, we chose 10 human nuclear proteins from which we predicted new potential CPP sequences by using three different CPP predictors: cell-penetrating peptide prediction tool, CellPPD, and SkipCPP-Pred. From each protein, one predicted CPP sequence was synthesized and its internalization into cells was assessed. Out of the tested sequences, three peptides displayed features characteristic to CPPs. These peptides and also the predicted peptide sequences could be used to design and modify new CPPs. In this work, we show that we can use protein sequences as input for generating new peptides with cell internalization properties. Three new CPPs, AHRR<sub>8-24</sub>, CASC3<sub>251-264</sub>, and AKIP1<sub>27-37</sub>, can be further used for the delivery of other cargoes or designed into multifunctional peptides with capability of internalizing cells.
Project description:Previous cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) generally have low cytosolic delivery efficiencies, because of inefficient endosomal escape. In this study, a family of small, amphipathic cyclic peptides was found to be highly efficient CPPs, with cytosolic delivery efficiencies of up to 120% (compared to 2.0% for Tat). These cyclic CPPs bind directly to the plasma membrane phospholipids and enter mammalian cells via endocytosis, followed by efficient release from the endosome. Their total cellular uptake efficiency correlates positively with the binding affinity for the plasma membrane, whereas their endosomal escape efficiency increases with the endosomal membrane-binding affinity. The cyclic CPPs induce membrane curvature on giant unilamellar vesicles and budding of small vesicles, which subsequently collapse into amorphous lipid/peptide aggregates. These data suggest that cyclic CPPs exit the endosome by binding to the endosomal membrane and inducing CPP-enriched lipid domains to bud off as small vesicles. Together with their high proteolytic stability, low cytotoxicity, and oral bioavailability, these cyclic CPPs should provide a powerful system for intracellular delivery of therapeutic agents and chemical probes.
Project description:Using cortical neuronal cultures and glutamic acid excitotoxicity and oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) stroke models, we demonstrated that poly-arginine and arginine-rich cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs), are highly neuroprotective, with efficacy increasing with increasing arginine content, have the capacity to reduce glutamic acid-induced neuronal calcium influx and require heparan sulfate preotoglycan-mediated endocytosis to induce a neuroprotective effect. Furthermore, neuroprotection could be induced with immediate peptide treatment or treatment up to 2 to 4 hours before glutamic acid excitotoxicity or OGD, and with poly-arginine-9 (R9) when administered intravenously after stroke onset in a rat model. In contrast, the JNKI-1 peptide when fused to the (non-arginine) kFGF CPP, which does not rely on endocytosis for uptake, was not neuroprotective in the glutamic acid model; the kFGF peptide was also ineffective. Similarly, positively charged poly-lysine-10 (K10) and R9 fused to the negatively charged poly-glutamic acid-9 (E9) peptide (R9/E9) displayed minimal neuroprotection after excitotoxicity. These results indicate that peptide positive charge and arginine residues are critical for neuroprotection, and have led us to hypothesize that peptide-induced endocytic internalization of ion channels is a potential mechanism of action. The findings also question the mode of action of different neuroprotective peptides fused to arginine-rich CPPs.
Project description:Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs), such as nona-arginine (9R), poorly translocate siRNA into cells. Our studies demonstrate that attaching 9R to ligands that bind cell surface receptors quantitatively increases siRNA uptake and importantly, allows functional delivery of complexed siRNA. The mechanism involved accumulation of ligand-9R:siRNA microparticles on the cell membrane, which induced transient membrane inversion at the site of ligand-9R binding and rapid siRNA translocation into the cytoplasm. siRNA release also occurred late after endocytosis when the ligand was attached to the L isoform of 9R, but not the protease-resistant 9DR, prolonging mRNA knockdown. This critically depended on endosomal proteolytic activity, implying that partial CPP degradation is required for endosome-to-cytosol translocation. The data demonstrate that ligand attachment renders simple polycationic CPPs effective for siRNA delivery by restoring their intrinsic property of translocation.