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Nucleic Acids Res. 1997 Jul 15;25(14):2730-6.

A new peptide vector for efficient delivery of oligonucleotides into mammalian cells.

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  • 1Centre de Recherches de Biochimie Macromoleculaire, URS-155 CNRS, BP 5051, 1919 Route de Mende, 34033 Montpellier Cedex 1, France.


The development of antisense and gene therapy has focused mainly on improving methods for oligonucleotide and gene delivery into cells. In the present work, we describe a potent new strategy for oligonucleotide delivery based on the use of a short peptide vector, termed MPG (27 residues), which contains a hydrophobic domain derived from the fusion sequence of HIV gp41 and a hydrophilic domain derived from the nuclear localization sequence of SV40 T-antigen. The formation of peptide vector/oligonucleotide complexes was investigated by measuring changes in intrinsic tryptophan fluorescence of peptide and of mansyl-labelled oligonucleotides. MPG exhibits relatively high affinity for both single- and double-stranded DNA in a nanomolar range. Based on both intrinsic and extrinsic fluorescence titrations, it appears that the main binding between MPG and oligonucleotides occurs through electrostatic interactions, which involve the basic-residues of the peptide vector. Further peptide/peptide interactions also occur, leading to a higher MPG/oligonucleotide ratio (in the region of 20/1), which suggests that oligonucleotides are most likely coated with several molecules of MPG. Premixed complexes of peptide vector with single or double stranded oligonucleotides are delivered into cultured mammalian cells in less than 1 h with relatively high efficiency (90%). This new strategy of oligonucleotide delivery into cultured cells based on a peptide vector offers several advantages compared to other commonly used approaches of delivery including efficiency, stability and absence of cytotoxicity. The interaction with MPG strongly increases both the stability of the oligonucleotide to nuclease and crossing of the plasma membrane. The mechanism of cell delivery of oligonucleotides by MPG does not follow the endosomal pathway, which explains the rapid and efficient delivery of oligonucleotides in the nucleus. As such, we propose this peptide vector as a powerful tool for potential development in gene and antisense therapy.

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