Translocation of HIV TAT peptide and analogues induced by multiplexed membrane and cytoskeletal interactions.
ABSTRACT: 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 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:The protein transduction domain of HIV-1 TAT, TAT(48-60), is an efficient cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) that diffuses across the lipid membranes of cells despite eight cationic Arg and Lys residues. To understand its mechanism of membrane translocation against the free energy barrier, we have conducted solid-state NMR experiments to determine the site-specific conformation, dynamics, and lipid interaction of the TAT peptide in anionic lipid bilayers. We found that TAT(48-60) is a highly dynamic and nearly random coil peptide in the lipid bilayer and inserts into the membrane-water interface near the glycerol backbone region. Arg-phosphate salt bridge interaction was revealed by short guanidinium-phosphate distances and restricted dynamics of the guanidinium. Together with the observation of strong peptide-water cross-peaks in (1)H spin diffusion spectra, these results indicate that TAT binding to the membrane-water interface is stabilized not only by electrostatic attraction to the anionic lipids but also by intermolecular hydrogen bonding with the lipid phosphates and water, which may take the role of intramolecular hydrogen bonds in canonical secondary structures. The random coil structure of TAT and another CPP, penetratin, suggests that the lack of amphipathic structure is essential for rapid translocation of these Arg-rich CPPs across the lipid membrane without causing permanent damages to the membrane integrity.
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:Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) have proven very effective as intracellular delivery vehicles for various therapeutics. However, there are some concerns about non-specific penetration and cytotoxicity of CPPs for effective cancer treatments. Herein, based on the cell-penetrating motif of an anticancer peptide, buforin IIb, we designed several CPP derivatives with cancer cell specificity. Among the derivatives, a 17-amino acid peptide (BR2) was found to have cancer-specificity without toxicity to normal cells. After specifically targeting cancer cells through interaction with gangliosides, BR2 entered cells via lipid-mediated macropinocytosis. Moreover, BR2 showed higher membrane translocation efficiency than the well-known CPP Tat (49-57). The capability of BR2 as a cancer-specific drug carrier was demonstrated by fusion of BR2 to a single-chain variable fragment (scFv) directed toward a mutated K-ras (G12V). BR2-fused scFv induced a higher degree of apoptosis than Tat-fused scFv in K-ras mutated HCT116 cells. These results suggest that the novel cell-penetrating peptide BR2 has great potential as a useful drug delivery carrier with cancer cell specificity.
Project description:Peptides and analogs such as peptide nucleic acids (PNA) are promising tools and therapeutics, but the cell membrane remains a barrier to intracellular targets. Conjugation to classical cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) such as pTat<sub>48-60</sub> (tat) and pAntp<sub>43-68</sub> (penetratin) facilitates delivery; however, efficiencies are low. Lack of explicit design principles hinders rational improvement. Here, we use synthetic molecular evolution (SME) to identify gain-of-function CPPs with dramatically improved ability to deliver cargoes to cells at low concentration. A CPP library containing 8192 tat/penetratin hybrid peptides coupled to an 18-residue PNA is screened using the HeLa pTRE-LucIVS2 splice correction reporter system. The daughter CPPs identified are one to two orders of magnitude more efficient than the parent sequences at delivery of PNA, and also deliver a dye cargo and an anionic peptide cargo. The significant increase in performance following a single iteration of SME demonstrates the power of this approach to peptide sequence optimization.
Project description: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).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.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:Biomolecules such as proteins, DNA, and RNA are macromolecules and can not cross the cell membrane. However, cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) has been shown to deliver therapeutic biomolecules successfully into cells. The various and widely used CPPs including TAT, VP22, and Antp are mostly non-human originated CPPs, and are limited by their potential toxicity and immunogenicity. We report here on a newly identified novel cell-penetrating sequence (LPIN; RRKRRRRRK) from the nuclear localization sequence (NLS) of human nuclear phosphatase, LPIN3. LPIN-EGFP recombinant protein was concentration- and time-dependently delivered into cells and localized to the nucleus as well as the cytoplasm. It penetrated the cell membrane by lipid raft-mediated endocytosis by binding to heparan sulfate proteoglycan. LPIN-EGFP was successfully delivered into primary mouse splenocytes in vitro and it could be delivered into various tissues including liver, kidney, and intestine in mice after intra-peritoneal injection. This research suggests that LPIN-CPP could be used in a drug delivery system to deliver therapeutic biomolecules including peptides, proteins, DNA, and RNA and without the limitations of non-human originated CPPs such as TAT-CPP.
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: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.