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.
Project description: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: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: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) are small peptides capable of crossing cellular membranes while carrying molecular cargo. Although they have been widely studied for their ability to translocate nucleic acids, small molecules, and proteins into mammalian cells, studies of their interaction with fungal cells are limited. In this work, we evaluated the translocation of eleven fluorescently labeled peptides into the important human fungal pathogens Candida albicans and C. glabrata and explored the mechanisms of translocation. Seven of these peptides (cecropin B, penetratin, pVEC, MAP, SynB, (KFF)3 K, and MPG) exhibited substantial translocation (>80% of cells) into both species in a concentration-dependent manner, and an additional peptide (TP-10) exhibiting strong translocation into only C. glabrata. Vacuoles were involved in translocation and intracellular trafficking of the peptides in the fungal cells and, for some peptides, escape from the vacuoles and localization in the cytosol were correlated to toxicity toward the fungal cells. Endocytosis was involved in the translocation of cecropin B, MAP, SynB, MPG, (KFF)3 K, and TP-10, and cecropin B, penetratin, pVEC, and MAP caused membrane permeabilization during translocation. These results indicate the involvement of multiple translocation mechanisms for some CPPs. Although high levels of translocation were typically associated with toxicity of the peptides toward the fungal cells, SynB was translocated efficiently into Candida cells at concentrations that led to minimal toxicity. Our work highlights the potential of CPPs in delivering antifungal molecules and other bioactive cargo to Candida pathogens.
Project description:Microspores are specialized generative cells with haploid genome that demonstrate the amenability toward embryogenesis under certain conditions. The induced microspore culture technique is largely exploited by the breeding programs of wheat and other crops due to its high efficiency for generation of the large number of haploid plants in the relatively short period of time. The ability to produce mature double haploid plant from a single cell has also attracted attention of the plant biotechnologists in the past few years. More importantly, the possibility to deliver proteins for improvement of embryogenesis and the genome modification purposes holds great potential for transgene-free wheat biotechnology. In the present study, we examined the ability of cationic and amphipathic cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) to convey a covalently-linked mCherry protein inside the viable microspores. We demonstrate that the affinity of CPPs to the microspore cells dependents on their charge with the highest efficiency of CPP-mCherry binding to the cells achieved by cationic CPPs (penetratin and R9). Additionally, due to overall negative charge of the microspore cell wall, the successful uptake of the protein cargo by live microspore cells is attained by utilization of a reversible disulfide bond between the R9 CPP and mCherry protein. Overall, the approach proposed herein can be applied by the other biotechnology groups for the fast and efficient screening of the different CPP candidates for their ability to deliver proteins inside the viable plant cells.
Project description:The use of cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) as drug carriers for targeted therapy is limited by the unrestricted cellular translocation of CPPs. The preferential induction of tumor cell death by penetratin (Antp)-directed peptides (PNC27 and PNC28), however, suggests that the CPP Antp may contribute to the preferential cytotoxicity of these peptides. Using PNC27 as a molecular model, we constructed three novel peptides (PT, PR9, and PD3) by replacing the leader peptide Antp with one of three distinct CPPs (TAT, R9, or DPV3), respectively. The IC(50) values of PNC27 in tumor cells were 2-3 times lower than in normal cells. However, all three engineered peptides demonstrated similar cytotoxic effects in tumor and normal cells. Another three chimeric peptides containing the leader peptide Antp with different mitochondria-disrupting peptides (KLA-Antp (KGA), B27-Antp (BA27), and B28-Antp (BA28)), preferentially induced apoptosis in tumor cells. The IC(50) values of these peptides (3-10 microM) were 3-6 times lower in tumor cells than in normal cells. In contrast, TAT-directed peptides (TAT-KLA (TK), TAT-B27 (TB27), and TAT-B28 (TB28)), were cytotoxic to both tumor and normal cells. These data demonstrate that the leader peptide Antp contributes to the preferential cytotoxicity of Antp-directed peptides. Furthermore, Antp-directed peptides bind chondroitin sulfate (CS), and the removal of endogenous CS reduces the cytotoxic effects of Antp-directed peptides in tumor cells. The overexpression of CS in tumor cells is positively correlated to the cell entry and cytotoxicity of Antp- directed peptides. These results suggest that CS overexpression in tumor cells is an important molecular portal that mediates the preferential cytotoxicity of Antp-directed peptides.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Basic cell-penetrating peptides are potential vectors for therapeutic molecules and display antimicrobial activity. The peptide-membrane contact is the first step of the sequential processes leading to peptide internalization and cell activity. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in peptide-membrane interaction are not well understood and are frequently controversial. Herein, we compared the membrane activities of six basic peptides with different size, charge density and amphipaticity: Two cell-penetrating peptides (penetratin and R9), three amphipathic peptides and the neuromodulator substance P.<h4>Methodology/principal findings</h4>Experiments of X ray diffraction, video-microscopy of giant vesicles, fluorescence spectroscopy, turbidimetry and calcein leakage from large vesicles are reported. Permeability and toxicity experiments were performed on cultured cells. The peptides showed differences in bilayer thickness perturbations, vesicles aggregation and local bending properties which form lipidic tubular structures. These structures invade the vesicle lumen in the absence of exogenous energy.<h4>Conclusions/significance</h4>We showed that the degree of membrane permeabilization with amphipathic peptides is dependent on both peptide size and hydrophobic nature of the residues. We propose a model for peptide-induced membrane perturbations that explains the differences in peptide membrane activities and suggests the existence of a facilitated "physical endocytosis," which represents a new pathway for peptide cellular internalization.
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:Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are small cationic peptides that cross the cell membrane while carrying macromolecular cargoes. We use solid-state NMR to investigate the structure and lipid interaction of two cationic residues, Arg(10) and Lys(13), in the CPP penetratin. (13)C chemical shifts indicate that Arg(10) adopts a rigid beta-strand conformation in the liquid-crystalline state of anionic lipid membranes. This behavior contrasts with all other residues observed so far in this peptide, which adopt a dynamic beta-turn conformation with coil-like chemical shifts at physiological temperature. Low-temperature (13)C-(31)P distances between the peptide and the lipid phosphates indicate that both the Arg(10) guanidinium Czeta atom and the Lys(13) Cepsilon atom are close to the lipid (31)P (4.0-4.2 A), proving the existence of charge-charge interaction for both Arg(10) and Lys(13) in the gel-phase membrane. However, since lysine substitution in CPPs is known to weaken their translocation ability, we propose that the low temperature stabilizes interactions of both lysine and arginine with the phosphates, whereas at high temperatures, the lysine-phosphate interaction is much weaker than the arginine-phosphate interaction. This is supported by the unusually high rigidity of the Arg(10) side chain and its beta-strand conformation at high temperatures. The latter is proposed to be important for ion pair formation by allowing close approach of the lipid headgroups to guanidinium side chains. (19)F and (13)C spin diffusion experiments indicate that penetratin is oligomerized into beta-sheets in gel-phase membranes. These solid-state NMR data indicate that guanidinium-phosphate interactions exist in penetratin, and guanidinium groups play a stronger structural role than ammonium groups in the lipid-assisted translocation of CPPs across liquid-crystalline cell membranes.