Protamine-fragment peptides fused to an SV40 nuclear localization signal deliver oligonucleotides that produce antisense effects in prostate and bladder carcinoma cells

Luba Benimetskaya, Nancy Guzzo-Pernell, Su Ting Liu, Johnathan C.H. Lai, Paul Miller, C. A. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The development of antisense technology has focused on improving methods for oligonucleotide delivery into cells. In the present work, we describe a novel strategy for oligonucleotide delivery based on a bifunctional peptide composed of a C-terminal protamine-fragment that contains a DNA-binding domain and an N-terminal nuclear localization signal sequence derived from the SV40 large-T antigen (The sequences of two of the peptides are R6WGR6-PKKKRKV [s-protamine-NLS] and R4SR6FGR6VWR4-PKKKRKV [1-protamine-NLS]). We demonstrated, by intrinsic fluorescence quenching, that peptides of this class form complexes with oligodeoxynucleotides. To evaluate delivery, we used a 20-mer phosphorothioate oligomer (Isis 3521) targeted to the 3′-untranslated region of the PKC-α mRNA and G3139, an 18-mer phosphorothioate targeted to the first six codons of the human bcl-2 open reading frame, and complexed them with either of two peptides (s- or 1-protamine-NLS). These peptides bind to and deliver antisense oligonucleotides to the nucleus of T24 bladder and PC3 prostate cancer cells, as demonstrated by confocal microscopy. Furthermore, as shown by Western and Northern blotting, the peptide-oligonucleotide complexes produced excellent downregulation of the expression of the complementary mRNAs, which in turn resulted in downregulation of protein expression. However, under certain circumstances (predominately in PC3 cells), incubation of the cells with chloroquine was required to produce antisense activity. Using this strategy, PKC-α protein and mRNA expression in T24 and PC3 cells and bcl-2 expression in PC3 cells was reduced by approximately 75 ± 10% at a minimum concentration of oligomer of 0.25 μM, in combination with 12-15 μM peptide. On the basis of our results, we conclude that arginine-rich peptides of this class may be potentially useful delivery vehicles for the cellular delivery of antisense oligonucleotides. This new strategy may have several advantages over other methods of oligonucleotide delivery and may complement already existing lipid-based technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-187
Number of pages11
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Protamine-fragment peptides fused to an SV40 nuclear localization signal deliver oligonucleotides that produce antisense effects in prostate and bladder carcinoma cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this