Impact of the Endosomal Escape Activity of Cell-Penetrating Peptides on the Endocytic Pathway.
ABSTRACT: Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are routinely used for the delivery of macromolecules into live human cells. To enter the cytosolic space of cells, CPPs typically permeabilize the membrane of endosomes. In turn, several approaches have been developed to increase the endosomal membrane permeation activity of CPPs so as to improve delivery efficiencies. The endocytic pathway is, however, important in maintaining cellular homeostasis, and understanding how endosomal permeation impacts cells is now critical to define the general utility of CPPs. Herein, we investigate how CPP-based delivery protocols affect the endocytic network. We detect that, in some cases, cell penetration induces the activation of Chmp1b, Galectin-3, and TFEB, which are components of endosomal repair, organelle clearance, and biogenesis pathways, respectively. We also detect that cellular delivery modulates endocytosis and endocytic proteolysis. Remarkably, a multimeric analogue of the prototypical CPP TAT permeabilizes endosomes efficiently without inducing membrane damage responses. These results challenge the notion that reagents that make endosomes leaky are generally toxic. Instead, our data indicates that it is possible to enter cells with minimal deleterious effects.
Project description:Many cellular delivery reagents enter the cytosolic space of cells by escaping the lumen of endocytic organelles and, more specifically, late endosomes. The mechanisms involved in endosomal membrane permeation remain largely unresolved, which impedes the improvement of delivery agents. Here, we investigate how 3TAT, a branched analog of the cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) TAT, achieves the permeabilization of bilayers containing bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate (BMP), a lipid found in late endosomes. We establish that the peptide does not induce the leakage of individual lipid bilayers. Instead, leakage requires contact between membranes. Peptide-driven bilayer contacts lead to fusion, lipid mixing, and, critically, peptide encapsulation within proximal bilayers. Notably, this encapsulation is a distinctive property of BMP that explains the specificity of CPP's membrane leakage activity. These results therefore support a model of cell penetration that requires both BMP and the vicinity between bilayers, two features unique to BMP-rich and multivesicular late endosomes.
Project description:Previous cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) generally have low cytosolic delivery efficiencies, because of inefficient endosomal escape. In this study, a family of small, amphipathic cyclic peptides was found to be highly efficient CPPs, with cytosolic delivery efficiencies of up to 120% (compared to 2.0% for Tat). These cyclic CPPs bind directly to the plasma membrane phospholipids and enter mammalian cells via endocytosis, followed by efficient release from the endosome. Their total cellular uptake efficiency correlates positively with the binding affinity for the plasma membrane, whereas their endosomal escape efficiency increases with the endosomal membrane-binding affinity. The cyclic CPPs induce membrane curvature on giant unilamellar vesicles and budding of small vesicles, which subsequently collapse into amorphous lipid/peptide aggregates. These data suggest that cyclic CPPs exit the endosome by binding to the endosomal membrane and inducing CPP-enriched lipid domains to bud off as small vesicles. Together with their high proteolytic stability, low cytotoxicity, and oral bioavailability, these cyclic CPPs should provide a powerful system for intracellular delivery of therapeutic agents and chemical probes.
Project description:Cationic cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are a promising vehicle for the delivery of macromolecular drugs. Although many studies have indicated that CPPs enter cells by endocytosis, the mechanisms by which they cross endosomal membranes remain elusive. On the basis of experiments with liposomes, we propose that CPP escape into the cytosol is based on leaky fusion (i.e., fusion associated with the permeabilization of membranes) of the bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate (BMP)-enriched membranes of late endosomes. In our experiments, prototypic CPP HIV-1 TAT peptide did not interact with liposomes mimicking the outer leaflet of the plasma membrane, but it did induce lipid mixing and membrane leakage as it translocated into liposomes mimicking the lipid composition of late endosome. Both membrane leakage and lipid mixing depended on the BMP content and were promoted at acidic pH, which is characteristic of late endosomes. Substitution of BMP with its structural isomer, phosphatidylglycerol (PG), significantly reduced both leakage of the aqueous probe from liposomes and lipid mixing between liposomes. Although affinity of binding to TAT was similar for BMP and PG, BMP exhibited a higher tendency to support the inverted hexagonal phase than PG. Finally, membrane leakage and peptide translocation were both inhibited by inhibitors of lipid mixing, further substantiating the hypothesis that cationic peptides cross BMP-enriched membranes by inducing leaky fusion between them.
Project description:Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are capable of delivering membrane-impermeable cargoes (including small molecules, peptides, proteins, nucleic acids, and nanoparticles) into the cytosol of mammalian cells and have the potential to revolutionize biomedical research and drug discovery. However, the mechanism of action of CPPs has remained poorly understood, especially how they escape from the endosome into the cytosol following endocytic uptake. We show herein that CPPs exit the endosome by inducing budding and collapse of CPP-enriched vesicles from the endosomal membrane. This mechanism provides a theoretical basis for designing CPPs and other delivery vehicles of improved efficiencies.
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:Many cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) fold at cell surfaces, adopting ?- or ?-structure that enable their intracellular transport. However, the same structural folds that facilitate cellular entry can also elicit potent membrane-lytic activity, limiting their use in delivery applications. Further, a distinct CPP can enter cells through many mechanisms, often leading to endosomal entrapment. Herein, we describe an intrinsically disordered peptide (CLIP6) that exclusively employs non-endosomal mechanisms to cross cellular membranes, while being remarkably biocompatible and serum-stable. We show that a single anionic glutamate residue is responsible for maintaining the disordered bioactive state of the peptide, defines its mechanism of cellular entry, and is central to its biocompatibility. CLIP6 can deliver membrane-impermeable cargo directly to the cytoplasm of cells, suggesting its broad utility for delivery of drug candidates limited by poor cell permeability and endosomal degradation.
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:Synthetic or natural derived cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are vastly investigated as tools for the intracellular delivery of membrane-impermeable molecules. As viruses are intracellular obligate parasites, viral originated CPPs have been considered as suitable intracellular shuttling vectors for cargo transportation. A total of 310 CPPs were identified in the proteome of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Screening the proteome of the cause of COVID-19 reveals that SARS-CoV-2 CPPs (SCV2-CPPs) span the regions involved in replication, protein-nucleotide and protein-protein interaction, protein-metal ion interaction, and stabilization of homo/hetero-oligomers. However, to find the most appropriate peptides as drug delivery vectors, one might face several hurdles. Computational analyses showed that 94.3% of the identified SCV2-CPPs are non-toxins, and 38% are neither antigenic nor allergenic. Interestingly, 36.70% of SCV2-CPPs were resistant to all four groups of protease families. Nearly 1/3 of SCV2-CPPs had sufficient inherent or induced helix and sheet conformation leading to increased uptake efficiency. Heliquest lipid-binding discrimination factor revealed that 44.30% of the helical SCV2-CPPs are lipid-binding helices. Although Cys-rich derived CPPs of helicase (NSP13) can potentially fold into a cyclic conformation in endosomes with a higher rate of endosomal release, the most optimal SCV2-CPP candidates as vectors for drug delivery were SCV2-CPP118, SCV2-CPP119, SCV2-CPP122, and SCV2-CPP129 of NSP12 (RdRp). Ten experimentally validated viral-derived CPPs were also used as the positive control to check the scalability and reliability of our protocol in SCV2-CPP retrieval. Some peptides with a cell-penetration ability known as bioactive peptides are adopted as biotherapeutics themselves. Therefore, 59.60%, 29.63%, and 32.32% of SCV2-CPPs were identified as potential antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungals, respectively. While 63.64% of SCV2-CPPs had immuno-modulatory properties, 21.89% were recognized as anti-cancers. Conclusively, the workflow of this study provides a platform for profound screening of viral proteomes as a rich source of biotherapeutics or drug delivery carriers.
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: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.