Discovery and Mechanism of Highly Efficient Cyclic Cell-Penetrating Peptides.
ABSTRACT: 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: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:Cytosolic transport is an essential requirement but a major obstacle to efficient delivery of therapeutic peptides, proteins and nucleic acids. Current understanding of cytosolic delivery mechanisms remains limited due to a significant number of conflicting reports, which are compounded by low sensitivity and indirect assays. To resolve this, we develop a highly sensitive Split Luciferase Endosomal Escape Quantification (SLEEQ) assay to probe mechanisms of cytosolic delivery. We apply SLEEQ to evaluate the cytosolic delivery of a range of widely studied cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) fused to a model protein. We demonstrate that positively charged CPPs enhance cytosolic delivery as a result of increased non-specific cell membrane association, rather than increased endosomal escape efficiency. These findings transform our current understanding of how CPPs increase cytosolic delivery. SLEEQ is a powerful tool that addresses fundamental questions in intracellular drug delivery and will significantly improve the way materials are engineered to increase therapeutic delivery to the cytosol.
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: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:Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are a new class of promising therapeutic molecules that can be used for sequence-specific downregulation of disease-causing genes. However, endosomal entrapment of siRNA is a key hurdle for most delivery strategies, limiting the therapeutic effect. Here, we use live-cell microscopy and cytosolic galectin-9 as a sensor of membrane damage, to probe fundamental properties of endosomal escape of cholesterol-conjugated siRNA induced by endosome-disrupting compounds. We demonstrate efficient release of ligand-conjugated siRNA from vesicles damaged by small molecules, enhancing target knockdown up to ?47-fold in tumor cells. Still, mismatch between siRNA-containing and drug-targeted endolysosomal compartments limits siRNA activity improvement. We also show widespread endosomal damage in macroscopic tumor spheroids after small molecule treatment, substantially improving siRNA delivery and knockdown throughout the spheroid. We believe the strategy to characterize endosomal escape presented here will be widely applicable, facilitating efforts to improve delivery of siRNA and other nucleic acid-based therapeutics.
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:Cationic lipids are used for delivering nucleic acids (lipoplexes) into cells for both therapeutic and biological applications. A better understanding of the identified key-steps, including endocytosis, endosomal escape and nuclear delivery is required for further developments to improve their efficacy. Here, we developed a labelling protocol using aminated nanoparticles as markers for plasmid DNA to examine the intracellular route of lipoplexes in cell lines using transmission electron microscopy. Morphological changes of lipoplexes, membrane reorganizations and endosomal membrane ruptures were observed allowing the understanding of the lipoplex mechanism until the endosomal escape mediated by cationic lipids. The study carried out on two cationic lipids, bis(guanidinium)-tris(2-aminoethyl)amine-cholesterol (BGTC) and dioleyl succinyl paramomycin (DOSP), showed two pathways of endosomal escape that could explain their different transfection efficiencies. For BGTC, a partial or complete dissociation of DNA from cationic lipids occurred before endosomal escape while for DOSP, lipoplexes remained visible within ruptured vesicles suggesting a more direct pathway for DNA release and endosome escape. In addition, the formation of new multilamellar lipid assemblies was noted, which could result from the interaction between cationic lipids and cellular compounds. These results provide new insights into DNA transfer pathways and possible implications of cationic lipids in lipid metabolism.
Project description:Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are well established as delivery agents for otherwise cell-impermeable cargos. CPPs can also theoretically be used to modulate intracellular processes. However, their susceptibility to proteolytic degradation often limits their utility in these applications. Previous studies have explored the consequences for cellular uptake of converting the residues in CPPs from l- to d-stereochemistry, but conflicting results have been reported and specific steps en route to intracellular activity have not been explored. Here we use dimeric fluorescence TAT as a model CPP to explore the broader consequences of l- to d-stereochemical conversion. We show that inversion of chirality provides protease resistance without altering the overall mode of cellular entry, a process involving endocytic uptake followed by endosomal escape and cytosolic access. However, whereas inversion of chirality reduces endocytic uptake, the d-peptide, once in the endosome, is significantly more prone to escape than its l-counterpart. Moreover, the d-peptide is retained in the cytosol of cells for several days, whereas the l-peptide is degraded within hours. Notably, while the l-peptide is relatively innocuous to cells, the d-peptide exerts a prolonged anti-proliferative activity. Together, our results establish connections between chirality, protease resistance, cellular penetration, and intracellular activity that may be useful for the development of future delivery agents with improved properties.
Project description:In many drug delivery strategies, an inefficient transfer of macromolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids to the cytosol often occurs because of their endosomal entrapment. One of the methods to overcome this problem is photochemical internalization, which is achieved using a photosensitizer and light to facilitate the endosomal escape of the macromolecule. In this study, we examined the molecular mechanism of photochemical internalization of cell penetrating peptide-cargo (macromolecule)-photosensitizer conjugates. We measured the photophysical properties of eight dyes (photosensitizer candidates) and determined the respective endosomal escape efficiencies using these dyes. Correlation plots between these factors indicated that the photogenerated (1)O2 molecules from photosensitizers were highly related to the endosomal escape efficiencies. The contribution of (1)O2 was confirmed using (1)O2 quenchers. In addition, time-lapse fluorescence imaging showed that the photoinduced endosomal escape occurred at a few seconds to a few minutes after irradiation (much longer than (1)O2 lifetime), and that the pH increased in the endosome prior to the endosomal escape of the macromolecule.
Project description:Recruitment of endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRTs) to the cytosolic face of endosomes regulates selective inclusion of transmembrane proteins into the lumenal vesicles of multivesicular bodies (MVBs). ESCRT-0, -I, and -II bind directly to ubiquitinated transmembrane cargoes of the MVB pathway, whereas polymerization of ESCRT-III at endosomes is thought to bend the membrane and/or provide the energetic force that drives membrane scission and detachment of vesicles into the endosome lumen. Disassembly of the ESCRT-III polymer and dissociation of its subunits from endosomes requires the Vps4 ATPase, the activity of which is controlled in vivo by regulatory proteins. We identify distinct spatiotemporal roles for Vps4-regulating proteins through examinations of subcellular localization and endosome morphology. Did2 plays a unique role in the regulation of MVB lumenal vesicle size, whereas Vtal and Vps60 promote efficient membrane scission and delivery of membrane to the endosome lumen. These morphological effects probably result from Vps4-mediated manipulations of ESCRT-III, because we show dissociation of ESCRT-0, -I, and -II from endosomes is not directly dependent on Vps4 activity.