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Biochemistry. 2005 Jan 11;44(1):72-81.

Decoding the entry of two novel cell-penetrating peptides in HeLa cells: lipid raft-mediated endocytosis and endosomal escape.

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  • 1Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich), Switzerland.


Cellular entry of peptide, protein, and nucleic acid biopharmaceuticals is severely impeded by the cell membrane. Linkage or assembly of such agents and cell-penetrating peptides (CPP) with the ability to cross cellular membranes has opened a new horizon in biomedical research. Nevertheless, the uptake mechanisms of most CPP have been controversially discussed and are poorly understood. We present data on two recently developed oligocationic CPP, the sweet arrow peptide SAP, a gamma-zein-related sequence, and a branched human calcitonin derived peptide, hCT(9-32)-br, carrying a simian virus derived nuclear localization sequence in the side chain. Uptake in HeLa cells and intracellular trafficking of N-terminally carboxyfluorescein labeled peptides was studied by confocal laser scanning microscopy and flow cytometry using biochemical markers in combination with quenching and colocalization approaches. Both peptides were readily internalized by HeLa cells through interaction with the extracellular matrix followed by lipid raft-mediated endocytosis as confirmed by reduced uptake at lower temperature, in the presence of endocytosis inhibitors and through cholesterol depletion by methyl-beta-cyclodextrin, supported by colocalization with markers for clathrin-independent pathways. In contrast to the oligocationic SAP and hCT(9-32)-br, interaction with the extracellular matrix, however, was no prerequisite for the observed lipid raft-mediated uptake of the weakly cationic, unbranched hCT(9-32). Transient involvement of endosomes in intracellular trafficking of SAP and hCT(9-32)-br prior to endosomal escape of both peptides was revealed by colocalization and pulse-chase studies of the peptides with the early endosome antigen 1. The results bear potential for CPP as tools for intracellular drug delivery.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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