Bifunctional chimeric fusion proteins engineered for DNA delivery: optimization of the protein to DNA ratio.
ABSTRACT: Cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) have been used to deliver nucleotide-based therapeutics to cells, but this approach has produced mixed results. Ionic interactions and covalent bonds between the CPPs and the cargos may inhibit the effectiveness of the CPPs or interfere with the bioactivity of the cargos.We have created a bifunctional chimeric protein that binds DNA using the p50 domain of the NF-kappaB transcription factor and is functionalized for delivery with the TAT CPP. The green fluorescent protein (GFP) has been incorporated for tracking delivery. The new chimeric protein, p50-GFP-TAT, was compared to p50-GFP, GFP-TAT and GFP as controls for the ability to transduce PC12 cells with and without oligonucleotide cargos.The p50-GFP-TAT construct can deliver 30 bp and 293 bp oligonucleotides to PC12 cells with an optimal ratio of 1.89 protein molecules per base pair of DNA length. This correlation was validated through the delivery of a fluorescent protein transgene encoded in a plasmid to PC12 cells. Thus, self-assembling CPP-based bifunctional fusion proteins can be engineered for the non-viral delivery of nucleotide-based cargos to mammalian cells.This work represents an important step forward in the rational design of protein-based systems for the delivery of macromolecular cargos.
Project description:Cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) have tremendous potential for use in gene and drug delivery applications. The selection of new CPPs with desired capabilities from randomized peptide libraries is challenging, since the CPP phenotype is a complex selection target. Here we report the discovery of an unusual new CPP from a randomized peptide library using a functional selection system based on plasmid display (PD). After four rounds of screening of a 14-mer peptide library over PC12 cells, several peptides were identified and tested for their ability to deliver the green fluorescent protein (GFP). One peptide (SG3) exhibited a cell penetrating phenotype; however, unlike other well-known CPPs such as TAT or Penetratin, the newly identified peptide was not highly cationic. The PD protocol necessitated the addition of a cationic lipid (Lipofectamine2000), and in the presence of this compound, the SG3 peptide significantly outperformed the well-known TAT CPP in the delivery of GFP to PC12 cells and primary astrocytes. When the SG3 peptide was fused to the pro-apoptotic BH3 peptide from the Bak protein, significant cell death was induced in cultured primary astrocytes, indicating relevant, intracellular delivery of a functional cargo. The PD platform is a useful method for identifying functional new CPPs from randomized libraries with unique delivery capabilities.
Project description:The use of CPPs (cell-penetrating peptides) as delivery vectors for bioactive molecules has been an emerging field since 1994 when the first CPP, penetratin, was discovered. Since then, several CPPs, including the widely used Tat (transactivator of transcription) peptide, have been developed and utilized to translocate a wide range of compounds across the plasma membrane of cells both in vivo and in vitro. Although the field has emerged as a possible future candidate for drug delivery, little attention has been given to the potential toxic side effects that these peptides might exhibit in cargo delivery. Also, no comprehensive study has been performed to evaluate the relative efficacy of single CPPs to convey different cargos. Therefore we selected three of the major CPPs, penetratin, Tat and transportan 10, and evaluated their ability to deliver commonly used cargos, including fluoresceinyl moiety, double-stranded DNA and proteins (i.e. avidin and streptavidin), and studied their effect on membrane integrity and cell viability. Our results demonstrate the unfeasibility to use the translocation efficacy of fluorescein moiety as a gauge for CPP efficiency, since the delivery properties are dependent on the cargo used. Furthermore, and no less importantly, the toxicity of CPPs depends heavily on peptide concentration, cargo molecule and coupling strategy.
Project description:Protein therapy holds great promise for treating a variety of diseases. To act on intracellular targets, therapeutic proteins must cross the plasma membrane. This has previously been achieved by covalent attachment to a variety of cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs). However, there is limited information on the relative performance of CPPs in delivering proteins to cells, specifically the cytosol and other intracellular locations. Here we use green fluorescent protein (GFP) as a model cargo to compare delivery capacity of five CPP sequences (Penetratin, R8, TAT, Transportan, Xentry) and cyclic derivatives in different human cell lines (HeLa, HEK, 10T1/2, HepG2) representing different tissues. Confocal microscopy analysis indicates that most fusion proteins when incubated with cells at 10?µM localise to endosomes. Quantification of cellular uptake by flow cytometry reveals that uptake depends on both cell type (10T1/2?>?HepG2?>?HeLa?>?HEK), and CPP sequence (Transportan?>?R8?>?Penetratin?TAT?>?Xentry). CPP sequence cyclisation or addition of a HA-sequence increased cellular uptake, but fluorescence was still contained in vesicles with no evidence of endosomal escape. Our results provide a guide to select CPP for endosomal/lysosomal delivery and a basis for developing more efficient CPPs in the future.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) can transport macromolecular cargos into live cells. However, the cellular delivery efficiency of these reagents is often suboptimal because CPP-cargo conjugates typically remain trapped inside endosomes. Interestingly, irradiation of fluorescently labeled CPPs with light increases the release of the peptide and its cargos into the cytosol. However, the mechanism of this phenomenon is not clear. Here we investigate the molecular basis of the photo-induced endosomolytic activity of the prototypical CPPs TAT labeled to the fluorophore 5(6)-carboxytetramethylrhodamine (TMR).<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>We report that TMR-TAT acts as a photosensitizer that can destroy membranes. TMR-TAT escapes from endosomes after exposure to moderate light doses. However, this is also accompanied by loss of plasma membrane integrity, membrane blebbing, and cell-death. In addition, the peptide causes the destruction of cells when applied extracellularly and also triggers the photohemolysis of red blood cells. These photolytic and photocytotoxic effects were inhibited by hydrophobic singlet oxygen quenchers but not by hydrophilic quenchers.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>Together, these results suggest that TAT can convert an innocuous fluorophore such as TMR into a potent photolytic agent. This effect involves the targeting of the fluorophore to cellular membranes and the production of singlet oxygen within the hydrophobic environment of the membranes. Our findings may be relevant for the design of reagents with photo-induced endosomolytic activity. The photocytotoxicity exhibited by TMR-TAT also suggests that CPP-chromophore conjugates could aid the development of novel Photodynamic Therapy agents.
Project description:Cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) are peptides that can be translocated into cells and used as a carrier platform for the intracellular uptake of cargo molecules. Subject to the source of CPP sequences and their positively charged nature, the cytotoxicity and immunogenicity of conventional CPPs needs to be optimized to expand their utility for biomedical applications. In addition to these safety issues, the stability of CPPs needs to be addressed since their positively charged residues are prone to interact with the biological milieu. As an effort to overcome these limitations of the current CPP technology, we isolated CPP candidate sequences and synthesized peptides from twelve isoforms of annexin, a family of membrane-interacting human proteins. The candidate screen returned a CPP rich in hydrophobic residues that showed more efficient cellular uptake than TAT-CPP. We then investigated the uptake mechanism, subcellular localization, and biophysical properties of the newly found CPP, verifying low cytotoxicity, long-term serum stability, and non-immunogenicity. Finally, model proteins conjugated to this peptide were successfully delivered into mammalian cells both in vitro and in vivo, indicating a potential use of the peptide as a carrier for the delivery of macromolecular cargos.
Project description:The ability of cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) to deliver biologically relevant cargos into cells is becoming more important as targets in the intracellular space continue to be explored. We have developed two assays based on CPP-dependent, intracellular delivery of TEM-1 ?-lactamase enzyme, a functional biological molecule comparable in size to many protein therapeutics. The first assay focuses on the delivery of full-length ?-lactamase to evaluate the internalization potential of a CPP sequence. The second assay uses a split-protein system where one component of ?-lactamase is constitutively expressed in the cytoplasm of a stable cell line and the other component is delivered by a CPP. The delivery of a split ?-lactamase component evaluates the cytosolic delivery capacity of a CPP. We demonstrate that these assays are rapid, flexible and have potential for use with any cell type and CPP sequence. Both assays are validated using canonical and novel CPPs, with limits of detection from <500 nM to 1 µM. Together, the ?-lactamase assays provide compatible tools for functional characterization of CPP activity and the delivery of biological cargos into cells.
Project description:Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are capable of transporting molecules to which they are tethered across cellular membranes. Unsurprisingly, CPPs have attracted attention for their potential drug delivery applications, but several technical hurdles remain to be overcome. Chief among them is the so-called 'endosomal escape problem,' i.e. the propensity of CPP-cargo molecules to be endocytosed but remain entrapped in endosomes rather than reaching the cytosol. Previously, a CPP fused to calmodulin that bound calmodulin binding site-containing cargos was shown to efficiently deliver cargos to the cytoplasm, effectively overcoming the endosomal escape problem. The CPP-adaptor, "TAT-CaM," evinces delivery at nM concentrations and more rapidly than we had previously been able to measure. To better understand the kinetics and mechanism of CPP-adaptor-mediated cargo delivery, a real-time cell penetrating assay was developed in which a flow chamber containing cultured cells was installed on the stage of a confocal microscope to allow for observation ab initio. Also examined in this study was an improved CPP-adaptor that utilizes naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber) calmodulin in place of human and results in superior internalization, likely due to its lesser net negative charge. Adaptor-cargo complexes were delivered into the flow chamber and fluorescence intensity in the midpoint of baby hamster kidney cells was measured as a function of time. Delivery of 400 nM cargo was observed within seven minutes and fluorescence continued to increase linearly as a function of time. Cargo-only control experiments showed that the minimal uptake which occurred independently of the CPP-adaptor resulted in punctate localization consistent with endosomal entrapment. A distance analysis was performed for cell-penetration experiments in which CPP-adaptor-delivered cargo showing wider dispersions throughout cells as compared to an analogous covalently-bound CPP-cargo. Small molecule endocytosis inhibitors did not have significant effects upon delivery. The real-time assay is an improvement upon static endpoint assays and should be informative in a broad array of applications.
Project description:Cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) offer great potential to deliver therapeutic molecules to previously inaccessible intracellular targets. However, many CPPs are inefficient and often leave their attached cargo stranded in the cell's endosome. We report a versatile platform for the isolation of peptides delivering a wide range of cargos into the cytoplasm of cells. We used this screening platform to identify multiple "Phylomer" CPPs, derived from bacterial and viral genomes. These peptides are amenable to conventional sequence optimization and engineering approaches for cell targeting and half-life extension. We demonstrate potent, functional delivery of protein, peptide, and nucleic acid analog cargos into cells using Phylomer CPPs. We validate in vivo activity in the cytoplasm, through successful transport of an oligonucleotide therapeutic fused to a Phylomer CPP in a disease model for Duchenne's muscular dystrophy. This report thus establishes a discovery platform for identifying novel, functional CPPs to expand the delivery landscape of druggable intracellular targets for biological therapeutics.
Project description:Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are short protein segments that can transport cargos into cells. Although CPPs are widely studied as potential drug delivery tools, their role in normal cell physiology is poorly understood. Early during infection, the L2 capsid protein of human papillomaviruses binds retromer, a cytoplasmic trafficking factor required for delivery of the incoming non-enveloped virus into the retrograde transport pathway. Here, we show that the C terminus of HPV L2 proteins contains a conserved cationic CPP that drives passage of a segment of the L2 protein through the endosomal membrane into the cytoplasm, where it binds retromer, thereby sorting the virus into the retrograde pathway for transport to the trans-Golgi network. These experiments define the cell-autonomous biological role of a CPP in its natural context and reveal how a luminal viral protein engages an essential cytoplasmic entry factor.
Project description:Bioactive macromolecular peptides and oligonucleotides have significant therapeutic potential. However, due to their size, they have no ability to enter the cytoplasm of cells. Peptide/Protein transduction domains (PTDs), also called cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs), can promote uptake of macromolecules via endocytosis. However, overcoming the rate-limiting step of endosomal escape into the cytoplasm remains a major challenge. Hydrophobic amino acid R groups are known to play a vital role in viral escape from endosomes. Here we utilize a real-time, quantitative live cell split-GFP fluorescence complementation phenotypic assay to systematically analyze and optimize a series of synthetic endosomal escape domains (EEDs). By conjugating EEDs to a TAT-PTD/CPP spilt-GFP peptide complementation assay, we were able to quantitatively measure endosomal escape into the cytoplasm of live cells via restoration of GFP fluorescence by intracellular molecular complementation. We found that EEDs containing two aromatic indole rings or one indole ring and two aromatic phenyl groups at a fixed distance of six polyethylene glycol (PEG) units from the TAT-PTD-cargo significantly enhanced cytoplasmic delivery in the absence of cytotoxicity. EEDs address the critical rate-limiting step of endosomal escape in delivery of macromolecular biologic peptide, protein and siRNA therapeutics into cells.