bims-cepepe Biomed News
on Cell-penetrating peptides
Issue of 2023‒09‒24
seven papers selected by
Henry Lamb, Queensland Univerity of Technology

  1. Bioconjug Chem. 2023 Sep 21.
      The formation of noncovalent complexes by mixing of positively charged polymers with negatively charged oligonucleotides (ONs) is a widely explored concept in nanomedicine to achieve cellular delivery of ONs. Uptake of ON complexes occurs through endocytosis, which then requires release of ON from endosomes. As one type of polymer, cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are being used which are peptides of about 8-30 amino acids in length. However, only a few CPPs yield effective cytosolic ON delivery and activity. Several strategies have been devised to increase cellular uptake and enhance endosomal release, among which an increase of osmotic pressure through the so-called proton sponge effect, disruption of membrane integrity through membrane activity, and disulfide-mediated polymerization. Here, we address the relevance of these concepts for mRNA delivery by incorporating structural features into the human lactoferrin-derived CPP, which shows uptake but not delivery. The incorporation of histidines was explored to address osmotic pressure and structural motifs of the delivery-active CPP PepFect14 (PF14) to address membrane disturbance, and finally, the impact of polymerization was explored. Whereas oligomerization increased the stability of polyplexes against heparin-induced decomplexation, neither this approach nor the incorporation of histidine residues to promote a proton-sponge effect yielded activity. Also, the replacement of arginine residues with lysine or ornithine residues, as in PF14, was without effect, even though all polyplexes showed cellular uptake. Ultimately, sufficient activity could only be achieved by transferring amphipathic sequence motifs from PF14 into the hLF context with some benefit of oligomerization demonstrating overarching principles of delivery for CPPs, lipid nanoparticles, and other types of delivery polymers.
  2. Int J Pharm. 2023 Sep 16. pii: S0378-5173(23)00842-6. [Epub ahead of print] 123421
      Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain tumor. Current treatments do not allow to cure the patients. This is partly due to the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which limits the delivery of drugs to the pathological site. To overcome this, we developed liposomes functionalized with a neurofilament-derived peptide, NFL-TBS.40-63 (NFL), known for its highly selective targeting of glioblastoma cells. First, in vitro BBB model was developed to check whether the NFL can also promote barrier crossing in addition to its active targeting capacity. Permeability experiments showed that the NFL peptide was able to cross the BBB. Moreover, when the BBB was in a pathological situation, i.e., an in vitro blood-brain tumor barrier (BBTB), the passage of the NFL peptide was greater while maintaining its glioblastoma targeting capacity. When the NFL peptide was associated to liposomes, it enhanced their ability to be internalized into glioblastoma cells after passage through the BBTB, compared to liposomes without NFL. The cellular uptake of liposomes was limited in the endothelial cell monolayer in comparison to the glioblastoma one. These data indicated that the NFL peptide is a promising cell-penetrating peptide tool when combined with drug delivery systems for the treatment of glioblastoma.
    Keywords:  Blood-brain barrier; Cell-penetrating peptides; Glioblastoma; Liposomes; NFL-TBS.40–63 peptide
  3. ACS Med Chem Lett. 2023 Sep 14. 14(9): 1174-1178
      Cyclic peptides have been expected to be one of the modalities of intracellular protein-protein interaction (PPI) inhibitors, but they are generally known to have low cell membrane permeability. In this study, we focused on the conformation of cyclic peptides in the cell membrane to determine the requirement for their cell membrane permeability through passive diffusion. Utilizing the requirement, we searched for structures with high affinity for MDMX via computational chemistry and acquired cyclic peptide 19 (Papp = 0.80 × 10-6 cm s-1, IC50 = 0.07 μM).
  4. Nat Rev Chem. 2023 Sep 19.
      Lipopeptides are amphiphilic peptides in which an aliphatic chain is attached to either the C or N terminus of peptides. Their self-assembly - into micelles, vesicles, nanotubes, fibres or nanobelts - leads to applications in nanotechnology, catalysis or medicinal chemistry. Self-organization of lipopeptides is dependent on both the length of the lipid tail and the amino acid sequence, in which the chirality of the peptide sequence can be transmitted into the supramolecular species. This Review describes the use of lipopeptides to design synthetic advanced dynamic supramolecular systems, nanostructured materials or self-responsive delivery systems in the area of medical biotechnology. We examine the influence of external stimuli, the ability of lipopeptide-derived structures to adapt over time and their application as medicinal agents with antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral or anticancer activities. Finally, we discuss the catalytic efficiency of lipopeptides, with the aim of building minimal synthetic enzymes, and recent efforts to incorporate metals into lipopeptide assemblies.
  5. Methods Protoc. 2023 Sep 08. pii: 82. [Epub ahead of print]6(5):
      Used in solid-phase peptide synthesis (SPPS) for peptides with an acid termination, the 2-chlorotrityl chloride (2-CTC) resin is highly susceptible to moisture, leading to reduced resin loading and lower synthetic yields. It is therefore recommended that the resin be activated with thionyl chloride (SOCl2) before peptide assembly. Here we present an optimized procedure for resin activation that minimizes the use of SOCl2 as the activation reagent and reduces the activation time. Additionally, we demonstrate the feasibility of reusing the 2-CTC resin when following the activation protocol, achieving comparable results to the first usage of the resin. Moreover, we achieved different degrees of resin activation by varying the amount of SOCl2. For instance, the use of 2% SOCl2 in anhydrous dichloromethane (DCM) allowed up to 44% activation of the resin, thereby making it suitable for the synthesis of longer peptides. Alternatively, employing 25% SOCl2 in anhydrous DCM resulted in up to 80% activation with a reaction time of only 5 min in both cases.
    Keywords:  2-CTC resin activation; 2-CTC resin reutilization; resin loading; solid-phase peptide synthesis
  6. Anal Chem. 2023 Sep 19.
      A "chemical linearization" approach was applied to synthetic peptide macrocycles to enable their de novo sequencing from mixtures using nanoliquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (nLC-MS/MS). This approach─previously applied to individual macrocycles but not to mixtures─involves cleavage of the peptide backbone at a defined position to give a product capable of generating sequence-determining fragment ions. Here, we first established the compatibility of "chemical linearization" by Edman degradation with a prominent macrocycle scaffold based on bis-Cys peptides cross-linked with the m-xylene linker, which are of major significance in therapeutics discovery. Then, using macrocycle libraries of known sequence composition, the ability to recover accurate de novo assignments to linearized products was critically tested using performance metrics unique to mixtures. Significantly, we show that linearized macrocycles can be sequenced with lower recall compared to linear peptides but with similar accuracy, which establishes the potential of using "chemical linearization" with synthetic libraries and selection procedures that yield compound mixtures. Sodiated precursor ions were identified as a significant source of high-scoring but inaccurate assignments, with potential implications for improving automated de novo sequencing more generally.
  7. Acc Chem Res. 2023 Sep 20.
      ConspectusProtein biosynthesis is a central process in all living cells that is catalyzed by a complex molecular machine─the ribosome. This process is termed translation because the language of nucleotides in mRNAs is translated into the language of amino acids in proteins. Transfer RNA (tRNA) molecules charged with amino acids serve as adaptors and recognize codons of mRNA in the decoding center while simultaneously the individual amino acids are assembled into a peptide chain in the peptidyl transferase center (PTC). As the nascent peptide emerges from the ribosome, it is threaded through a long tunnel referred to as a nascent peptide exit tunnel (NPET). The PTC and NPET are the sites targeted by many antibiotics and are thus of tremendous importance from a biomedical perspective and for drug development in the pharmaceutical industry.Researchers have achieved much progress in characterizing ribosomal translation at the molecular level; an impressive number of high-resolution structures of different functional and inhibited states of the ribosome are now available. These structures have significantly contributed to our understanding of how the ribosome interacts with its key substrates, namely, mRNA, tRNAs, and translation factors. In contrast, much less is known about the mechanisms of how small molecules, especially antibiotics, affect ribosomal protein synthesis. This mainly concerns the structural basis of small molecule-NPET interference with cotranslational protein folding and the regulation of protein synthesis. Growing biochemical evidence suggests that NPET plays an active role in the regulation of protein synthesis.Much-needed progress in this field is hampered by the fact that during the preparation of ribosome complexes for structural studies (i.e., X-ray crystallography, cryoelectron microscopy, and NMR spectroscopy) the aminoacyl- or peptidyl-tRNAs are unstable and become hydrolyzed. A solution to this problem is the application of hydrolysis-resistant mimics of aminoacyl- or peptidyl-tRNAs.In this Account, we present an overview of synthetic methods for the generation of peptidyl-tRNA analogs. Modular approaches have been developed that combine (i) RNA and peptide solid-phase synthesis on 3'-aminoacylamino-adenosine resins, (ii) native chemical ligations and Staudinger ligations, (iii) tailoring of tRNAs by the selective cleavage of natural native tRNAs with DNAzymes followed by reassembly with enzymatic ligation to synthetic peptidyl-RNA fragments, and (iv) enzymatic tailing and cysteine charging of the tRNA to obtain modified CCA termini of a tRNA that are chemically ligated to the peptide moiety of interest. With this arsenal of tools, in principle, any desired sequence of a stably linked peptidyl-tRNA mimic is accessible. To underline the significance of the synthetic conjugates, we briefly point to the most critical applications that have shed new light on the molecular mechanisms underlying the context-specific activity of ribosome-targeting antibiotics, ribosome-dependent incorporation of multiple consecutive proline residues, the incorporation of d-amino acids, and tRNA mischarging.Furthermore, we discuss new types of stably charged tRNA analogs, relying on triazole- and squarate (instead of amide)-linked conjugates. Those have pushed forward our mechanistic understanding of nonribosomal peptide synthesis, where aminoacyl-tRNA-dependent enzymes are critically involved in various cellular processes in primary and secondary metabolism and in bacterial cell wall synthesis.