Enhanced cell-permeant Cre protein for site-specific recombination in cultured cells.
ABSTRACT: Cell-permeant Cre DNA site-specific recombinases provide an easily controlled means to regulate gene structure and function in living cells. Since recombination provides a stable and unambiguous record of protein uptake, the enzyme may also be used for quantitative studies of cis- and trans-acting factors that influence the delivery of proteins into cells.In the present study, 11 recombinant fusion proteins were analyzed to characterize sequences and conditions that affect protein uptake and/or activity and to develop more active cell-permeant enzymes. We report that the native enzyme has a low, but intrinsic ability to enter cells. The most active Cre proteins tested contained either an N-terminal 6xHis tag and a nuclear localization sequence from SV40 large T antigen (HNC) or the HIV Tat transduction sequence and a C-terminal 6xHis tag (TCH6). The NLS and 6xHis elements separately enhanced the delivery of the HNC protein into cells; moreover, transduction sequences from fibroblast growth factor 4, HIV Tat or consisting of the (KFF)3K sequence were not required for efficient protein transduction and adversely affected enzyme solubility. Transduction of the HNC protein required 10 to 15 min for half-maximum uptake, was greatly decreased at 4 degrees C and was inhibited by serum. Efficient recombination was observed in all cell types tested (a T-cell line, NIH3T3, Cos7, murine ES cells, and primary splenocytes), and did not require localization of the enzyme to the nucleus.The effects of different sequences on the delivery and/or activity of Cre in cultured cells could not be predicted in advance. Consequently, the process of developing more active cell-permeant recombinases was largely empirical. The HNC protein, with an excellent combination of activity, solubility and yield, will enhance the use of cell-permeant Cre proteins to regulate gene structure and function in living cells.
Project description:Cellular uptake of the human immunodeficiency virus TAT protein transduction domain (PTD), or cell-penetrating peptide, has previously been surmised to occur in a manner dependent on the presence of heparan sulfate proteoglycans that are expressed ubiquitously on the cell surface. These acidic polysaccharides form a large pool of negative charge on the cell surface that TAT PTD binds avidly. Additionally, sulfated glycans have been proposed to aid in the interaction of TAT PTD and other arginine-rich PTDs with the cell membrane, perhaps aiding their translocation across the membrane. Surprisingly, however, TAT PTD-mediated induction of macropinocytosis and cellular transduction occurs in the absence of heparan sulfate and sialic acid. Using labeled TAT PTD peptides and fusion proteins, in addition to TAT PTD-Cre recombination-based phenotypic assays, we show that transduction occurs efficiently in mutant Chinese hamster ovary cell lines deficient in glycosaminoglycans and sialic acids. Similar results were obtained in cells where glycans were enzymatically removed. In contrast, enzymatic removal of proteins from the cell surface completely ablated TAT PTD-mediated transduction. Our findings support the hypothesis that acidic glycans form a pool of charge that TAT PTD binds on the cell surface, but this binding is independent of the PTD-mediated transduction mechanism and the induction of macropinocytotic uptake by TAT PTD.
Project description:The receptor tyrosine kinase MERTK plays an essential role in the phagocytic uptake of shed photoreceptor membranes by the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). A fundamental aspect of signal transduction by receptor tyrosine kinases involves autophosphorylation of tyrosine residues that recruit Src-homology 2 (SH2)-domain proteins to the receptor intracellular domain. The goal of the current study was to evaluate the interactions of human MERTK with SH2-domain proteins present in the RPE. The MERTK intracellular domain was expressed as a 6xHis-fusion protein (6xHis-rMERTK(571-999)), purified and phosphorylated. Ni(2+)-NTA pull downs were performed using 6xHis-rMERTK(571-999) in incubations with recombinant phosphotyrosine-recognition sequences expressed as GST-fusion proteins. In addition, pull downs of native SH2-domain proteins were performed using 6xHis-rMERTK(571-999) and protein homogenates from rat RPE/choroid. For both recombinant and native proteins, western analysis detected MERTK interactions with GRB2, PIK3R1 (P85?), VAV3, and SRC. Immunohistochemical analysis localized each protein to mouse RPE. In cultured RPE-J cells incubated with rod outer segments (OS), siRNA knockdown of Grb2 had no effect on OS binding, but significantly reduced OS uptake. Pik3r1 localized to early phagosomes along with Rab5 and Eea1. Phosphorylation and activation of Src was detected downstream of phagocytosis and Mertk activation. These findings suggest that MERTK signaling in the RPE involves a cohort of SH2-domain proteins with the potential to regulate both cytoskeletal rearrangement and membrane movement. Identification of the SH2-domain signaling partners of MERTK is an important step toward further defining the mechanism of RPE phagocytosis that is central to the function and survival of the retina.
Project description:The protein transduction domain from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) Tat allows proteins to penetrate the cell membrane. Enhanced cellular uptake of therapeutic proteins could benefit a number of disorders. This is especially true for lysosomal storage disorders (LSDs) where enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) and gene therapy have been developed. We developed a novel recombinant lentiviral vector (LV) that engineers expression of alpha-galactosidase A (alpha-gal A)-Tat fusion protein for correction of Fabry disease, the second-most prevalent LSD with manifestations in the brain, kidney and heart. In vitro experiments confirmed mannose-6-phosphate independent uptake of the fusion factor. Next, concentrated therapeutic LV was injected into neonatal Fabry mice. Analysis of tissues at 26 wks demonstrated similar alpha-gal A enzyme activities but enhanced globotriaosylceramide (Gb3) reduction in hearts and kidneys compared with the alpha-gal A LV control. This strategy might advance not only gene therapy for Fabry disease and other LSDs, but also ERT, especially for cardiac Fabry disease.
Project description:Protein toxins, such as gelonin, are highly desirable anti-cancer drug candidates due to their unparalleled potency and repetitive reaction mechanism in inhibiting protein translation. However, for its potential application in cancer therapy, there remains the cell membrane barrier that allows permeation of only small molecules, which must be overcome. To address this challenge, we conjugated gelonin with a protein transduction domain (PTD), the TAT peptide, via genetic recombination. The chimeric TAT-gelonin fusion protein (TAT-Gel) retained equipotent N-glycosidase activity yet displayed greater cell uptake than unmodified recombinant gelonin (rGel), thereby yielding a significantly augmented cytotoxic activity. Remarkably, TAT-Gel displayed up to 177-fold lower IC?? (avg. 54.3 nM) than rGel (avg. IC?? : 3640 nM) in tested cell lines. This enhanced cytotoxicity, however, also raised potential toxicity concerns due to the non-selectivity of PTD in its mediated cell transduction. To solve this problem, we investigated the plausibility of regulating the cell transduction of TAT-Gel via a reversible masking using heparin and protamine. Here, we demonstrated, both in vitro and in vivo, that the cell transduction of TAT-Gel can be completely curbed with heparin and yet this heparin block can be efficiently reversed by the addition of protamine. This reversible tight regulation of the cell transduction of TAT-Gel by heparin and protamine sheds light of possible application of TAT-Gel in achieving a highly effective yet safe drug therapy for the treatment of tumors.
Project description:Alignments of 105 site-specific recombinases belonging to the Int family of proteins identified extended areas of similarity and three types of structural differences. In addition to the previously recognized conservation of the tetrad R-H-R-Y, located in boxes I and II, several newly identified sequence patches include charged amino acids that are highly conserved and a specific pattern of buried residues contributing to the overall protein fold. With some notable exceptions, unconserved regions correspond to loops in the crystal structures of the catalytic domains of lambda Int (Int c170) and HP1 Int (HPC) and of the recombinases XerD and Cre. Two structured regions also harbor some pronounced differences. The first comprises beta-sheets 4 and 5, alpha-helix D and the adjacent loop connecting it to alpha-helix E: two Ints of phages infecting thermophilic bacteria are missing this region altogether; the crystal structures of HPC, XerD and Cre reveal a lack of beta-sheets 4 and 5; Cre displays two additional beta-sheets following alpha-helix D; five recombinases carry large insertions. The second involves the catalytic tyrosine and is seen in a comparison of the four crystal structures. The yeast recombinases can theoretically be fitted to the Int fold, but the overall differences, involving changes in spacing as well as in motif structure, are more substantial than seen in most other proteins. The phenotypes of mutations compiled from several proteins are correlated with the available structural information and structure-function relationships are discussed. In addition, a few prokaryotic and eukaryotic enzymes with partial homology with the Int family of recombinases may be distantly related, either through divergent or convergent evolution. These include a restriction enzyme and a subgroup of eukaryotic RNA helicases (D-E-A-D proteins).
Project description:BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Protein transduction domains (PTDs), such as Tat, antennapedia homeoprotein (Antp), Rev and VP22, have been extensively utilized for intracellular delivery of biologically active macromolecules in vitro and in vivo. There is little known, however, about the relative transduction efficacy, cytotoxicity and internalization mechanism of individual PTDs. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: We examined the cargo delivery efficacies of four major PTDs (Tat, Antp, Rev and VP22) and evaluated their toxicities and cell internalizing pathways in various cell lines. KEY RESULTS: The relative order of the transduction efficacy of these PTDs conjugated to fluorescein was Rev>Antp>Tat>VP22, independent of cell type (HeLa, HaCaT, A431, Jurkat, MOLT-4 and HL60 cells). Antp produced significant toxicity in HeLa and Jurkat cells, and Rev produced significant toxicity in Jurkat cells. Flow cytometric analysis demonstrated that the uptake of PTD-fluorescein conjugate was dose-dependently inhibited by methyl-beta-cyclodextrin, cytochalasin D and amiloride, indicating that all four PTDs were internalized by the macropinocytotic pathway. Accordingly, in cells co-treated with 'Tat-fused' endosome-disruptive HA2 peptides (HA2-Tat) and independent PTD-fluorescent protein conjugates, fluorescence spread throughout the cytosol, indicating that all four PTDs were internalized into the same vesicles as Tat. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: These findings suggest that macropinocytosis-dependent internalization is a crucial step in PTD-mediated molecular transduction. From the viewpoint of developing effective and safe protein transduction technology, although Tat was the most versatile carrier among the peptides studied, PTDs should be selected based on their individual characteristics.
Project description:The glutathione (GSH) antioxidant defense system plays a central role in protecting mammalian cells against oxidative injury. Glutamate cysteine ligase (GCL) is the rate-limiting enzyme in GSH biosynthesis and is a heterodimeric holoenzyme composed of catalytic (GCLC) and modifier (GCLM) subunits. As a means of assessing the cytoprotective effects of enhanced GSH biosynthetic capacity, we have developed a protein transduction approach whereby recombinant GCL protein can be rapidly and directly transferred into cells when coupled to the HIV TAT protein transduction domain. Bacterial expression vectors encoding TAT fusion proteins of both GCL subunits were generated and recombinant fusion proteins were synthesized and purified to near homogeneity. The TAT-GCL fusion proteins were capable of heterodimerization and formation of functional GCL holoenzyme in vitro. Exposure of Hepa-1c1c7 cells to the TAT-GCL fusion proteins resulted in the time- and dose-dependent transduction of both GCL subunits and increased cellular GCL activity and GSH levels. A heterodimerization-competent, enzymatically deficient GCLC-TAT mutant was also generated in an attempt to create a dominant-negative suppressor of GCL. Transduction of cells with a catalytically inactive GCLC(E103A)-TAT mutant decreased cellular GCL activity in a dose-dependent manner. TAT-mediated manipulation of cellular GCL activity was also functionally relevant as transduction with wild-type GCLC(WT)-TAT or mutant GCLC(E103A)-TAT conferred protection or enhanced sensitivity to H(2)O(2)-induced cell death, respectively. These findings demonstrate that TAT-mediated transduction of wild-type or dominant-inhibitory mutants of the GCL subunits is a viable means of manipulating cellular GCL activity to assess the effects of altered GSH biosynthetic capacity.
Project description:Over the previous years, comprehensive studies on antiretroviral drugs resulted in the successful introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) into clinical practice for treatment of HIV/AIDS. However, there is still need for new therapeutic approaches, since HAART cannot eradicate HIV-1 from the infected organism and, unfortunately, can be associated with long-term toxicity and the development of drug resistance. In contrast, novel gene therapy strategies may have the potential to reverse the infection by eradicating HIV-1. For example, expression of long terminal repeat (LTR)-specific recombinase (Tre-recombinase) has been shown to result in chromosomal excision of proviral DNA and, in consequence, in the eradication of HIV-1 from infected cell cultures. However, the delivery of Tre-recombinase currently depends on the genetic manipulation of target cells, a process that is complicating such therapeutic approaches and, thus, might be undesirable in a clinical setting. In this report we demonstrate that E.coli expressed Tre-recombinases, tagged either with the protein transduction domain (PTD) from the HIV-1 Tat trans-activator or the translocation motif (TLM) of the Hepatitis B virus PreS2 protein, were able to translocate efficiently into cells and showed significant recombination activity on HIV-1 LTR sequences. Tre activity was observed using episomal and stable integrated reporter constructs in transfected HeLa cells. Furthermore, the TLM-tagged enzyme was able to excise the full-length proviral DNA from chromosomal integration sites of HIV-1-infected HeLa and CEM-SS cells. The presented data confirm Tre-recombinase activity on integrated HIV-1 and provide the basis for the non-genetic transient application of engineered recombinases, which may be a valuable component of future HIV eradication strategies.
Project description:Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, including variant-Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in humans and bovine spongiform encephalopathies in cattle, are fatal neurodegenerative disorders characterized by protein misfolding of the host cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) to the infectious scrapie form (PrP(Sc)). However, the mechanism that exogenous PrP(Sc) infects cells and where pathologic conversion of PrP(C) to the PrP(Sc) form occurs remains uncertain. Here we report that similar to the mechanism of HIV-1 TAT-mediated peptide transduction, processed mature, full length PrP contains a conserved N-terminal cationic domain that stimulates cellular uptake by lipid raft-dependent, macropinocytosis. Inhibition of macropinocytosis by three independent means prevented cellular uptake of recombinant PrP; however, it did not affect recombinant PrP cell surface association. In addition, fusion of the cationic N-terminal PrP domain to a Cre recombinase reporter protein was sufficient to promote both cellular uptake and escape from the macropinosomes into the cytoplasm. Inhibition of macropinocytosis was sufficient to prevent conversion of PrP(C) to the pathologic PrP(Sc) form in N2a cells exposed to strain RML PrP(Sc) infected brain homogenates, suggesting that a critical determinant of PrP(C) conversion occurs following macropinocytotic internalization and not through mere membrane association. Taken together, these observations provide a cellular mechanism that exogenous pathological PrP(Sc) infects cells by lipid raft dependent, macropinocytosis.
Project description:The zinc metalloprotease gp63 (leishmanolysin; promastigote surface protease) is expressed at high density at the surface of Leishmania promastigotes. Efficient non-toxic inhibitors of gp63 do not exist, and its precise role in parasite physiology remains unknown. MARCKS (myristoylated alanine-rich C kinase substrate) and MARCKS-related protein (MRP; MacMARCKS) are protein kinase C substrates in various cells, including macrophages. We reported previously that MRP is an excellent substrate for gp63. A major cleavage site was identified within the MRP effector domain (ED), a highly basic 24-amino-acid sequence, and the synthetic ED peptide (MRP(ED)) was shown to inhibit MRP hydrolysis. In the present study, MRP cleavage was used as an assay to measure the capacity of various MRP or MARCKS ED peptides to block gp63 activity. On a molar basis, MRP(ED) inhibited gp63 to a greater extent than two previously described gp63 inhibitors, o -phenanthroline and benzyloxycarbonyl-Tyr-Leu-NHOH. MARCKS(ED) analogues containing modifications in the gp63 consensus cleavage site showed significant differences in inhibitory capacity. As phosphorylation of ED serine residues prevented gp63-mediated MRP degradation, we synthesized a pseudophosphorylated peptide in which serine residues were substituted by aspartate (3DMRP(ED)). 3DMRP(ED) was a highly effective inhibitor of both soluble and parasite-associated gp63. Finally, MRP ED peptides were synthesized together with an N-terminal HIV-1 Tat transduction domain (TD) to obtain cell-permeant peptide constructs. Such peptides retained gp63 inhibitory activity and efficiently entered both macrophages and parasites in a Tat TD-dependent manner. These studies may provide the basis for developing potent cell-permeant inhibitors of gp63.