A versatile cell-penetrating peptide-adaptor system for efficient delivery of molecular cargos to subcellular destinations.
ABSTRACT: Cell penetrating peptides have long held great potential for delivery of biomolecular cargos for research, therapeutic and diagnostic purposes. They allow rapid, relatively nontoxic passage of a wide variety of biomolecules through the plasma membranes of living cells. However, CPP-based research tools and therapeutics have been stymied by poor efficiency in release from endosomes and a great deal of effort has been made to solve this 'endosomal escape problem.' Previously, we showed that use of a reversible, noncovalent coupling between CPP and cargo using calmodulin and a calmodulin binding motif allowed efficient delivery of cargo proteins to the cytoplasm in baby hamster kidney and other mammalian cell lines. The present report demonstrates the efficacy of our CPP-adaptor scheme for efficient delivery of model cargos to the cytoplasm using a variety of CPPs and adaptors. Effective overcoming of the endosomal escape problem is further demonstrated by the delivery of cargo to the nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum and peroxisomes by addition of appropriate subcellular localization signals to the cargos. CPP-adaptors were also used to deliver cargo to myotubes, demonstrating the feasibility of the system as an alternative to transfection for the manipulation of hard-to-transfect cells.
Project description:The use of cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) as biomolecular delivery vehicles holds great promise for therapeutic and other applications, but development has been stymied by poor delivery and lack of endosomal escape. We have developed a CPP-adaptor system capable of efficient intracellular delivery and endosomal escape of user-defined protein cargos. The cell-penetrating sequence of HIV transactivator of transcription was fused to calmodulin, which binds with subnanomolar affinity to proteins containing a calmodulin binding site. Our strategy has tremendous advantage over prior CPP technologies because it utilizes high-affinity non-covalent, but reversible coupling between CPP and cargo. Three different cargo proteins fused to a calmodulin binding sequence were delivered to the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells and released, demonstrating the feasibility of numerous applications in living cells including alteration of signaling pathways and gene expression.
Project description:Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are capable of transporting molecules to which they are tethered across cellular membranes. Unsurprisingly, CPPs have attracted attention for their potential drug delivery applications, but several technical hurdles remain to be overcome. Chief among them is the so-called 'endosomal escape problem,' i.e. the propensity of CPP-cargo molecules to be endocytosed but remain entrapped in endosomes rather than reaching the cytosol. Previously, a CPP fused to calmodulin that bound calmodulin binding site-containing cargos was shown to efficiently deliver cargos to the cytoplasm, effectively overcoming the endosomal escape problem. The CPP-adaptor, "TAT-CaM," evinces delivery at nM concentrations and more rapidly than we had previously been able to measure. To better understand the kinetics and mechanism of CPP-adaptor-mediated cargo delivery, a real-time cell penetrating assay was developed in which a flow chamber containing cultured cells was installed on the stage of a confocal microscope to allow for observation ab initio. Also examined in this study was an improved CPP-adaptor that utilizes naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber) calmodulin in place of human and results in superior internalization, likely due to its lesser net negative charge. Adaptor-cargo complexes were delivered into the flow chamber and fluorescence intensity in the midpoint of baby hamster kidney cells was measured as a function of time. Delivery of 400 nM cargo was observed within seven minutes and fluorescence continued to increase linearly as a function of time. Cargo-only control experiments showed that the minimal uptake which occurred independently of the CPP-adaptor resulted in punctate localization consistent with endosomal entrapment. A distance analysis was performed for cell-penetration experiments in which CPP-adaptor-delivered cargo showing wider dispersions throughout cells as compared to an analogous covalently-bound CPP-cargo. Small molecule endocytosis inhibitors did not have significant effects upon delivery. The real-time assay is an improvement upon static endpoint assays and should be informative in a broad array of applications.
Project description:Bioactive macromolecular peptides and oligonucleotides have significant therapeutic potential. However, due to their size, they have no ability to enter the cytoplasm of cells. Peptide/Protein transduction domains (PTDs), also called cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs), can promote uptake of macromolecules via endocytosis. However, overcoming the rate-limiting step of endosomal escape into the cytoplasm remains a major challenge. Hydrophobic amino acid R groups are known to play a vital role in viral escape from endosomes. Here we utilize a real-time, quantitative live cell split-GFP fluorescence complementation phenotypic assay to systematically analyze and optimize a series of synthetic endosomal escape domains (EEDs). By conjugating EEDs to a TAT-PTD/CPP spilt-GFP peptide complementation assay, we were able to quantitatively measure endosomal escape into the cytoplasm of live cells via restoration of GFP fluorescence by intracellular molecular complementation. We found that EEDs containing two aromatic indole rings or one indole ring and two aromatic phenyl groups at a fixed distance of six polyethylene glycol (PEG) units from the TAT-PTD-cargo significantly enhanced cytoplasmic delivery in the absence of cytotoxicity. EEDs address the critical rate-limiting step of endosomal escape in delivery of macromolecular biologic peptide, protein and siRNA therapeutics into cells.
Project description:Cyclic heptapeptide cyclo(FΦRRRRQ) (cFΦR4, where Φ is l-2-naphthylalanine) was recently found to be efficiently internalized by mammalian cells. In this study, its mechanism of internalization was investigated by perturbing various endocytic events through the introduction of pharmacologic agents and genetic mutations. The results show that cFΦR4 binds directly to membrane phospholipids, is internalized into human cancer cells through endocytosis, and escapes from early endosomes into the cytoplasm. Its cargo capacity was examined with a wide variety of molecules, including small-molecule dyes, linear and cyclic peptides of various charged states, and proteins. Depending on the nature of the cargos, they may be delivered by endocyclic (insertion of cargo into the cFΦR4 ring), exocyclic (attachment of cargo to the Gln side chain), or bicyclic approaches (fusion of cFΦR4 and cyclic cargo rings). The overall delivery efficiency (i.e., delivery of cargo into the cytoplasm and nucleus) of cFΦR4 was 4-12-fold higher than those of nonaarginine, HIV Tat-derived peptide, or penetratin. The higher delivery efficiency, coupled with superior serum stability, minimal toxicity, and synthetic accessibility, renders cFΦR4 a useful transporter for intracellular cargo delivery and a suitable system for investigating the mechanism of endosomal escape.
Project description:A key step of delivering extracellular agents to its intracellular target is to escape from endosomal/lysosomal compartments, while minimizing the release of digestive enzymes that may compromise cellular functions. In this study, we examined the intracellular distribution of both fluorecent cargoes and enzymes by a particle delivery platform made from the controlled blending of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) and a random pH-sensitive copolymer.We utilized both microscopic and biochemical methods to semi-quantitatively assess how the composition of blend particles affects the level of endosomal escape of cargos of various sizes and enzymes into the cytosolic space.We demonstrated that these polymeric particles enabled the controlled delivery of cargos into the cytosolic space that was more dependent on the cargo size and less on the composition of blend particles. Blend particles did not induce the rupture of endosomal/lysosomal compartments and released less than 20% of endosomal/lysosomal enzymes.This study provides insight into understanding the efficacy and safety of a delivery system for intracellular delivery of biologics and drugs. Blend particles offer a potential platform to target intracellular compartments while potentially minimizing cellular toxicity.
Project description:The ability for biologics to access intracellular targets hinges on the translocation of active, unmodified proteins. This is often achieved using nanoscale formulations, which enter cells through endocytosis. This uptake mechanism often limits the therapeutic potential of the biologics, as the propensity of the nanocarrier to escape the endosome becomes the key determinant. To appropriately evaluate and compare competing delivery systems of disparate compositions, it is therefore critical to assess endosomal escape efficiencies. Unfortunately, quantitative tools to assess endosomal escape are lacking, and standard approaches often lead to an erroneous interpretation of cytosolic localization. In this study we use a split-complementation endosomal escape (SEE) assay to evaluate levels of cytosolic caspase-3 following delivery by polymer nanogels and mesoporous silica nanoparticles. In particular, we use SEE as a means to enable the systematic investigation of the effect of polymer composition, polymer architecture (random vs block), hydrophobicity, and surface functionality. Although polymer structure had little influence on endosomal escape, nanogel functionalization with cationic and pH-sensitive peptides significantly enhanced endosomal escape levels and, further, significantly increased the amount of nanogel per endosome. This work serves as a guide for developing an optimal caspase-3 delivery system, as this caspase-3 variant can be easily substituted for a therapeutic caspase-3 cargo in any system that results in cytosolic accumulation and cargo release. In addition, these data provide a framework that can be readily applied to a wide variety of protein cargos to assess the independent contributions of both uptake and endosomal escape of a wide range of protein delivery vehicles.
Project description:Membrane traffic requires the specific concentration of protein cargos and exclusion of other proteins into nascent carriers. Critical components of this selectivity are the protein adaptors that bind to short, linear motifs in the cytoplasmic tails of transmembrane protein cargos and sequester them into nascent carriers. The recruitment of the adaptors is mediated by activated Arf GTPases, and the Arf-adaptor complexes mark sites of carrier formation. However, the nature of the signal(s) that initiates carrier biogenesis remains unknown. We examined the specificity and initial sites of recruitment of Arf-dependent adaptors (AP-1 and GGAs) in response to the Golgi or endosomal localization of specific cargo proteins (furin, mannose-6-phosphate receptor (M6PR), and M6PR lacking a C-terminal domain M6PR?C). We find that cargo promotes the recruitment of specific adaptors, suggesting that it is part of an upstream signaling event. Cargos do not promote adaptor recruitment to all compartments in which they reside, and thus additional factors regulate the cargo's ability to promote Arf activation and adaptor recruitment. We document that within a given compartment different cargos recruit different adaptors, suggesting that there is little or no free, activated Arf at the membrane and that Arf activation is spatially and temporally coupled to the cargo and the adaptor. Using temperature block, brefeldin A, and recovery from each, we found that the cytoplasmic tail of M6PR causes the recruitment of AP-1 and GGAs to recycling endosomes and not at the Golgi, as predicted by steady state staining profiles. These results are discussed with respect to the generation of novel models for cargo-dependent regulation of membrane traffic.
Project description:Efficient cargo uptake is essential for cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) therapeutics, which deliver widely diverse cargoes by exploiting natural cell processes to penetrate the cell's membranes. Yet most current CPP activity assays are hampered by limitations in assessing uptake, including confounding effects of conjugated fluorophores or ligands, indirect read-outs requiring secondary processing, and difficulty in discriminating internalization from endosomally trapped cargo. Split-complementation Endosomal Escape (SEE) provides the first direct assay visualizing true cytoplasmic-delivery of proteins at biologically relevant concentrations. The SEE assay has minimal background, is amenable to high-throughput processes, and adaptable to different transient and stable cell lines. This split-GFP-based platform can be useful to study transduction mechanisms, cellular imaging, and characterizing novel CPPs as pharmaceutical delivery agents in the treatment of disease.
Project description:Cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) offer great potential to deliver therapeutic molecules to previously inaccessible intracellular targets. However, many CPPs are inefficient and often leave their attached cargo stranded in the cell's endosome. We report a versatile platform for the isolation of peptides delivering a wide range of cargos into the cytoplasm of cells. We used this screening platform to identify multiple "Phylomer" CPPs, derived from bacterial and viral genomes. These peptides are amenable to conventional sequence optimization and engineering approaches for cell targeting and half-life extension. We demonstrate potent, functional delivery of protein, peptide, and nucleic acid analog cargos into cells using Phylomer CPPs. We validate in vivo activity in the cytoplasm, through successful transport of an oligonucleotide therapeutic fused to a Phylomer CPP in a disease model for Duchenne's muscular dystrophy. This report thus establishes a discovery platform for identifying novel, functional CPPs to expand the delivery landscape of druggable intracellular targets for biological therapeutics.
Project description:Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are short protein segments that can transport cargos into cells. Although CPPs are widely studied as potential drug delivery tools, their role in normal cell physiology is poorly understood. Early during infection, the L2 capsid protein of human papillomaviruses binds retromer, a cytoplasmic trafficking factor required for delivery of the incoming non-enveloped virus into the retrograde transport pathway. Here, we show that the C terminus of HPV L2 proteins contains a conserved cationic CPP that drives passage of a segment of the L2 protein through the endosomal membrane into the cytoplasm, where it binds retromer, thereby sorting the virus into the retrograde pathway for transport to the trans-Golgi network. These experiments define the cell-autonomous biological role of a CPP in its natural context and reveal how a luminal viral protein engages an essential cytoplasmic entry factor.