Combinatorial peptide chemistry and orthogonal high-throughput screening were used to select peptides that spontaneously translocate across synthetic lipid bilayer membranes without permeabilization. A conserved sequence motif was identified that contains several cationic residues in conserved positions in an otherwise hydrophobic sequence. This 9-residue motif rapidly translocates across synthetic multibilayer vesicles and into cells while carrying a large polar dye as a "cargo" moiety. The extraordinary ability of this family of peptides to spontaneously translocate across bilayers without an energy source of any kind is distinctly different from the behavior of the well-known, highly cationic cell-penetrating peptides, such as the HIV tat peptide, which do not translocate across synthetic bilayers, and enter cells mostly by active endocytosis. Peptides that translocate spontaneously across membranes have the potential to transform the field of drug design by enabling the delivery of otherwise membrane-impermeant polar drugs into cells and tissues. Here we describe the chemical tools needed to rapidly identify spontaneous membrane translocating peptides.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry