Small efficient cell-penetrating peptides derived from scorpion toxin maurocalcine.
ABSTRACT: Maurocalcine is the first demonstrated example of an animal toxin peptide with efficient cell penetration properties. Although it is a highly competitive cell-penetrating peptide (CPP), its relatively large size of 33 amino acids and the presence of three internal disulfide bridges may hamper its development for in vitro and in vivo applications. Here, we demonstrate that several efficient CPPs can be derived from maurocalcine by replacing Cys residues by isosteric 2-aminobutyric acid residues and sequence truncation down to peptides of up to 9 residues in length. A surprising finding is that all of the truncated maurocalcine analogues possessed cell penetration properties, indicating that the maurocalcine is a highly specialized CPP. Careful examination of the cell penetration properties of the truncated analogues indicates that several maurocalcine-derived peptides should be of great interest for cell delivery applications where peptide size matters.
Project description:Maurocalcine has been the first demonstrated animal toxin acting as a cell-penetrating peptide. Although it possesses competitive advantages, its use as a cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) requires that analogues be developed that lack its characteristic pharmacological activity on ryanodine-sensitive calcium channels without affecting its cell-penetrating and vector efficiencies. Here, we present the synthesis, three-dimensional (1)H NMR structure, and activity of D-maurocalcine. We demonstrate that it possesses all of the desired features for an excellent CPP: preserved structure, lack of pharmacological action, conserved vector properties, and absence of cell toxicity. This is the first report of a folded/oxidized animal toxin in its D-diastereomer conformation for use as a CPP. The protease resistance of this new peptide analogue, combined with its efficient cell penetration at concentrations devoid of cell toxicity, suggests that D-maurocalcine should be an excellent vector for in vivo applications.
Project description:Maurocalcine is a highly potent cell-penetrating peptide isolated from the Tunisian scorpion Maurus palmatus. Many cell-penetrating peptide analogues have been derived from the full-length maurocalcine by internal cysteine substitutions and sequence truncation. Herein we have further characterized the cell-penetrating properties of one such peptide, MCaUF1-9, whose sequence matches that of the hydrophobic face of maurocalcine. This peptide shows very favorable cell-penetration efficacy compared to Tat, penetratin or polyarginine. The peptide appears so specialized in cell penetration that it seems hard to improve by site directed mutagenesis. A comparative analysis of the efficacies of similar peptides isolated from other toxin members of the same family leads to the identification of hadrucalcin's hydrophobic face as an even better CPP. Protonation of the histidine residue at position 6 renders the cell penetration of MCaUF1-9 pH-sensitive. Greater cell penetration at acidic pH suggests that MCaUF1-9 can be used to specifically target cancer cells in vivo where tumor masses grow in more acidic environments.
Project description:Maurocalcine (MCa) is a 33-amino-acid residue peptide toxin isolated from the scorpion Scorpio maurus palmatus. External application of MCa to cultured myotubes is known to produce Ca2+ release from intracellular stores. MCa binds directly to the skeletal muscle isoform of the ryanodine receptor, an intracellular channel target of the endoplasmic reticulum, and induces long lasting channel openings in a mode of smaller conductance. Here we investigated the way MCa proceeds to cross biological membranes to reach its target. A biotinylated derivative of MCa was produced (MCa(b)) and complexed with a fluorescent indicator (streptavidine-cyanine 3) to follow the cell penetration of the toxin. The toxin complex efficiently penetrated into various cell types without requiring metabolic energy (low temperature) or implicating an endocytosis mechanism. MCa appeared to share the same features as the so-called cell-penetrating peptides. Our results provide evidence that MCa has the ability to act as a molecular carrier and to cross cell membranes in a rapid manner (1-2 min), making this toxin the first demonstrated example of a scorpion toxin that translocates into cells.
Project description:The 33 amino acid scorpion toxin maurocalcine (MCa) has been shown to modify the gating of the skeletal-type ryanodine receptor (RyR1). Here we explored the effects of MCa and its mutants ([Ala(8)]MCa, [Ala(19)]MCa, [Ala(20)]MCa, [Ala(22)]MCa, [Ala(23)]MCa, and [Ala(24)]MCa) on RyR1 incorporated into artificial lipid bilayers and on elementary calcium release events (ECRE) in rat and frog skeletal muscle fibers. The peptides induced long-lasting subconductance states (LLSS) on RyR1 that lasted for several seconds. However, their average length and frequency were decreased if the mutation was placed farther away in the 3D structure from the critical (24)Arg residue. The effect was strongly dependent on the direction of the current through the channel. If the direction was similar to that followed by calcium during release, the peptides were 8- to 10-fold less effective. In fibers long-lasting calcium release events were observed after the addition of the peptides. The average length of these events correlated well with the duration of LLSS. These data suggest that the effect of the peptide is governed by the large charged surface formed by residues Lys(20), Lys(22), Arg(23), Arg(24), and Lys(8). Our observations also indicate that the results from bilayer experiments mimic the in situ effects of MCa on RyR1.
Project description:Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most aggressive malignancy with a five year survival rate of <5%. The aberrant expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) in the tumor stroma forms a compact physical barrier, which that leads to insufficient extravasation and penetration of nanosized therapies. To overcome the severe resistance of PDAC to conventional therapies, a sequentially triggered nanoparticle (aptamer/cell-penetrating peptide-camptothecin prodrug, i.e., Apt/CPP-CPTD NPs) with tumor penetration and intelligent drug release profile is designed. An ECM component (tenescin-C) targeting aptamer (GBI-10) is modified onto stroma-permeable cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) for the in vivo CPP camouflage and PDAC-homing. In PDAC stroma, tenascin-C can detach GBI-10 from CPP and exposed CPP can facilitate further PDAC penetration and tumor cell endocytosis. After being endocytosed into PDAC cells, intracellular high redox potential can further trigger controlled chemodrug release. Apt/CPP-CPTD NPs show both deep penetration in vitro 3D PDAC spheroids and in vivo tumor sections. The relatively mild in vitro cytotoxicity and excellent in vivo antitumor efficacy proves the improved PDAC targeting drug delivery and decreased systemic toxicity. The design of ECM-redox sequentially triggered stroma permeable NPs may provide a practical approach for deep penetration of PDAC and enhanced drug delivery efficacy.
Project description:Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) have been shown to be outstanding tools for drug delivery and biomedical applications, mainly owing to their colloidal stability, surface chemistry, and photothermal properties. The biocompatibility and stability of nanoparticles can be improved by capping the nanoparticles with endogenous proteins, such as albumin. Notably, protein coating of nanoparticles can interfere with and decrease their cell penetration. Therefore, in the present study, we functionalized albumin with the r<sub>8</sub> peptide (All-D, octaarginine) and used it for coating NIR-plasmonic anisotropic gold nanoparticles. Gold nanoprisms (AuNPrs) and gold nanorods (AuNRs) were coated with bovine serum albumin (BSA) previously functionalized using a cell penetrating peptide (CPP) with the r<sub>8</sub> sequence (BSA-r<sub>8</sub>). The effect of the coated and r<sub>8</sub>-functionalized AuNPs on HeLa cell viability was assessed by the MTS assay, showing a low effect on cell viability after BSA coating. Moreover, the internalization of the nanostructures into HeLa cells was assessed by confocal microscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). As a result, both nanoconstructs showed an improved internalization level after being capped with BSA-r<sub>8</sub>, in contrast to the BSA-functionalized control, suggesting the predominant role of CPP functionalization in cell internalization. Thus, our results validate both novel nanoconstructs as potential candidates to be coated by endogenous proteins and functionalized with a CPP to optimize cell internalization. In a further approach, coating AuNPs with CPP-functionalized BSA can broaden the possibilities for biomedical applications by combining their optical properties, biocompatibility, and cell-penetration abilities.
Project description:Therapeutics delivery into cells has been hurdled due to the barrier of cytoplasmic membrane. Although cell penetrating peptide (CPP) can potentially serve as an intracellular drug delivery vehicle, the application of CPP-based delivery is limited because the unsatisfactory delivery efficiency of CPP conjugated potent cargos is challenging their applications in present. Thus, the development of strategies for enhancing the penetrating efficiency of CPP would therefore urgent need to be explored to increase the scope of potential applications. We report here the effects of glucose, sucrose and manntiol (abbreviated as GSM) combination facilitating the penetration efficiency of CPP peptide alone or CPP-GFP (green fluorescence protein) conjugation in cultured cell lines or primary cells. Moreover, osmoprotectants glycerol and glycine supplementation help cells cope with the stress from GSM combination. Thus, our present study suggests that GSM combination in the presence of osmoprotectant can work as a new strategy for CPP penetration enhancement.
Project description:<h4>Background and purpose</h4>The novel macrocyclic peptide cyclo[Phe-D-Pro-Phe-D-Trp] ([D-Trp]CJ-15,208) exhibits κ opioid (KOP) receptor antagonist activity in both in vitro and in vivo assays. The four alanine analogues of this peptide were synthesized and characterized both in vitro and in vivo to assess the contribution of different amino acid residues to the activity of [D-Trp]CJ-15,208.<h4>Experimental approach</h4>The peptides were synthesized by a combination of solid phase peptide synthesis and cyclization in solution. The analogues were evaluated in vitro in receptor binding and functional assays, and in vivo with mice using a tail-withdrawal assay for antinociceptive and opioid antagonist activity. Mice demonstrating extinction of cocaine conditioned-place preference (CPP) were pretreated with selected analogues to evaluate prevention of stress or cocaine-induced reinstatement of CPP.<h4>Key results</h4>The alanine analogues displayed pharmacological profiles in vivo distinctly different from [D-Trp]CJ-15,208. While the analogues exhibited varying opioid receptor affinities and κ and μ opioid receptor antagonist activity in vitro, they produced potent opioid receptor-mediated antinociception (ED50 = 0.28-4.19 nmol, i.c.v.) in vivo. Three of the analogues also displayed KOP receptor antagonist activity in vivo. Pretreatment with an analogue exhibiting both KOP receptor agonist and antagonist activity in vivo prevented both cocaine- and stress-induced reinstatement of cocaine-seeking behaviour in the CPP assay in a time-dependent manner.<h4>Conclusions and implications</h4>These unusual macrocyclic peptides exhibit in vivo opioid activity profiles different from the parent compound and represent novel compounds for potential development as therapeutics for drug abuse and possibly as analgesics.
Project description:As a potent therapeutic agent, small interfering RNA (siRNA) has been exploited to silence critical genes involved in tumor initiation and progression. However, development of a desirable delivery system is required to overcome the unfavorable properties of siRNA such as its high degradability, molecular size, and negative charge to help increase its accumulation in tumor tissues and promote efficient cellular uptake and endosomal/lysosomal escape of the nucleic acids. In this study, we developed a new activatable cell-penetrating peptide (ACPP) that is responsive to an acidic tumor microenvironment, which was then used to modify the surfaces of siRNA-loaded liposomes. The ACPP is composed of a cell-penetrating peptide (CPP), an acid-labile linker (hydrazone), and a polyanionic domain, including glutamic acid and histidine. In the systemic circulation (pH 7.4), the surface polycationic moieties of the CPP (polyarginine) are "shielded" by the intramolecular electrostatic interaction of the inhibitory domain. When exposed to a lower pH, a common property of solid tumors, the ACPP undergoes acid-catalyzed breakage at the hydrazone site, and the consequent protonation of histidine residues promotes detachment of the inhibitory peptide. Subsequently, the unshielded CPP would facilitate the cellular membrane penetration and efficient endosomal/lysosomal evasion of liposomal siRNA. A series of investigations demonstrated that once exposed to an acidic pH, the ACPP-modified liposomes showed elevated cellular uptake, downregulated expression of polo-like kinase 1, and augmented cell apoptosis. In addition, favorable siRNA avoidance of the endosome/lysosome was observed in both MCF-7 and A549 cells, followed by effective cytoplasmic release. In view of its acid sensitivity and therapeutic potency, this newly developed pH-responsive and ACPP-mediated liposome system represents a potential platform for siRNA-based cancer treatment.
Project description:Because of their favorable properties as macromolecular drugs, antibodies are a very successful therapeutic modality for interfering with disease-relevant targets in the extracellular space or at the cell membrane. However, a large number of diseases involve cytosolic targets and designing antibodies able to efficiently reach intracellular compartments would expand the antibody-tractable conditions. Here, we genetically fused cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) at various positions to an antibody targeting cancer cells, evaluated the developability features of the resulting antibody-peptide fusions and the ability of selected constructs to reach the cytosol. We first determined positions in the IgG structure that were permissive to CPP incorporation without destabilizing the antibody. Fusing CPPs to the C-terminus of the light chain and either before or after the hinge had the least effect on antibody developability features. These constructs were further evaluated for cell penetration efficiency. Two out of five tested CPPs significantly enhanced antibody penetration into the cytosol, in particular when fused before or after the hinge. Finally, we demonstrate that specific antibody binding to the cell surface target is necessary for efficient cell penetration of the CPP-antibody fusions. This study provides a solid basis for further exploration of therapeutic antibodies for intracellular targets.