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ACS Macro Lett. 2012 Jan 17;1(1):100-104. Epub 2011 Nov 21.

Guanidine-Containing Methacrylamide (Co)polymers via aRAFT: Toward a Cell Penetrating Peptide Mimic().

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Department of Polymer Science, University of Southern Mississippi 118 College Drive, Hattiesburg MS 39406.


We report the synthesis and controlled radical homo- and block copolymerization of 3-guanidinopropyl methacrylamide (GPMA) utilizing aqueous reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (aRAFT) polymerization. The resulting homopolymer and block copolymer with N-(2-hydroxypropyl) methacrylamide (HPMA) were prepared to mimic the behavior of cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) and poly(arginine) (> 6 units) which have been shown to cross cell membranes. The homopolymerization mediated by 4-cyano-4-(ethylsulfanylthiocarbonylsulfanyl)pentanoic acid (CEP) in aqueous buffer exhibited pseudo-first-order kinetics and linear growth of molecular weight with conversion. Retention of the "living" thiocarbonylthio ω-end-group was demonstrated through successful chain extension of the GPMA macroCTA yielding GPMA(37)-b-GPMA(61) (M(w)/M(n) =1.05). Block copolymers of GPMA with the non-immunogenic, biocompatible HPMA were synthesized yielding HPMA(271)-b-GPMA(13) (M(w)/M(n) = 1.15). Notably, intracellular uptake was confirmed by fluorescence microscopy, confocal laser scanning microscopy, and flow cytometry experiments after 2.5 h incubation with KB cells at 4 °C and at 37 °C utilizing FITC-labeled, GPMA-containing copolymers. The observed facility of cellular uptake and the structural control afforded by aRAFT polymerization suggest significant potential for these synthetic (co)polymers as drug delivery vehicles in targeted therapies.

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