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FEBS Lett. 2004 Jan 2;556(1-3):180-6.

Delivery of antisense peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) to the cytosol by disulphide conjugation to a lipophilic cation.

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Medical Research Council Dunn Human Nutrition Unit, Wellcome Trust/MRC Building, Hills Road, CB2 2XY, Cambridge, UK.


Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) are effective antisense reagents that bind specific mRNAs preventing their translation. However, PNAs cannot cross cell membranes, hampering delivery to cells. To overcome this problem we made PNAs membrane-permeant by conjugation to the lipophilic triphenylphosphonium (TPP) cation through a disulphide bond. The TPP cation led to efficient PNA uptake into the cytoplasm where the disulphide bond was reduced, releasing the antisense PNA to block expression of its target gene. This method of directing PNAs into cells is a significant improvement on current procedures and will facilitate in vitro and pharmacological applications of PNAs.

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