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Quantitative fluorescence spectroscopy and flow cytometry analyses of cell-penetrating peptides internalization pathways: optimization, pitfalls, comparison with mass spectrometry quantification.


ABSTRACT: 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(8) 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 ?M 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.

SUBMITTER: Illien F 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5107916 | BioStudies | 2016-01-01T00:00:00Z

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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