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Bioconjug Chem. 2012 Feb 15;23(2):158-63. doi: 10.1021/bc2004507. Epub 2012 Jan 25.

Fluorescent peptide-PNA chimeras for imaging monoamine oxidase A mRNA in neuronal cells.

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Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, USA.


Monoamine oxidases (MAO) catalyze the oxidative deamination of many biogenic amines and are integral proteins found in the mitochondrial outer membrane. Changes in MAO-A levels are associated with depression, trait aggression, and addiction. Here we report the synthesis, characterization, and in vitro evaluation of novel fluorescent peptide-peptide nucleic acid (PNA) chimeras for MAOA mRNA imaging in live neuronal cells. The probes were designed to include MAOA-specific PNA dodecamers, separated by an N-terminal spacer to a μ-opioid receptor targeting peptide (DAMGO), with a spacer and a fluorophore on the C-terminus. The probe was successfully delivered into human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells through μ-opioid receptor-mediated endocytosis. The K(d) by flow cytometry was 11.6 ± 0.8 nM. Uptake studies by fluorescence microscopy showed ∼5-fold higher signal in human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells than in negative control CHO-K1 cells that lack μ-opioid receptors. Moreover, a peptide-mismatch control sequence showed no significant uptake in SH-SY5Y cells. Such mRNA imaging agents with near-infrared fluorophores might enable real time imaging and quantitation of neuronal mRNAs in live animal models.

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