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PLoS One. 2018 Apr 4;13(4):e0195558. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0195558. eCollection 2018.

Membrane permeabilizing amphiphilic peptide delivers recombinant transcription factor and CRISPR-Cas9/Cpf1 ribonucleoproteins in hard-to-modify cells.

Author information

Feldan Therapeutics, Québec, Québec, Canada.
Université Laval, Département de Génie Chimique, Québec, Québec, Canada.
Centre de recherche de l'Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, Montréal, Québec, Canada.


Delivery of recombinant proteins to therapeutic cells is limited by a lack of efficient methods. This hinders the use of transcription factors or Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) ribonucleoproteins to develop cell therapies. Here, we report a soluble peptide designed for the direct delivery of proteins to mammalian cells including human stem cells, hard-to-modify primary natural killer (NK) cells, and cancer cell models. This peptide is composed of a 6x histidine-rich domain fused to the endosomolytic peptide CM18 and the cell penetrating peptide PTD4. A less than two-minute co-incubation of 6His-CM18-PTD4 peptide with spCas9 and/or asCpf1 CRISPR ribonucleoproteins achieves robust gene editing. The same procedure, co-incubating with the transcription factor HoxB4, achieves transcriptional regulation. The broad applicability and flexibility of this DNA- and chemical-free method across different cell types, particularly hard-to-transfect cells, opens the way for a direct use of proteins for biomedical research and cell therapy manufacturing.

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