Distinct uptake routes of cell-penetrating peptide conjugates.
Lundin P., Johansson H., Guterstam P., Holm T., Hansen M., Langel U., EL Andaloussi S.
Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are a growing family of peptides that have opened a new avenue in drug delivery, allowing various hydrophilic macromolecules to enter cells. In accordance with most other cationic delivery vectors, CPPs seem to rely mostly on endocytosis for internalization. However, due to conflicting results the exact endocytic pathways for CPP uptake have not yet been resolved. Here, we evaluated the ability of seven CPPs, with different chemical properties, to convey peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) inside cells. Assays based on both splice correction, generating biologically active read-out, and on traditional fluorescence measurements were utilized. The same assays were employed to assess different endocytic pathways and the dependence on extracellular heparan sulfates for internalization. Both highly cationic CPPs (M918, penetratin, and Tat) and amphipathic peptides (transportan, TP10, MAP, and pVEC) were investigated in this study. Conjugate uptake relied on endocytosis for all seven peptides but splice-correcting activity varied greatly for the investigated CPPs. The exact endocytic internalization routes were evaluated through the use of well-known endocytosis inhibitors and tracers. In summary, the different chemical properties of CPPs have little correlation with their ability to efficiently deliver splice-correcting PNA. However, conjugates of polycationic and amphipathic peptides appear to utilize different internalization routes.