Modular design and self-assembly of multidomain peptides towards cytocompatible supramolecular cell penetrating nanofibers†
The discovery of cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) with unique membrane activity has inspired the design and synthesis of a variety of cell penetrating macromolecules, which offer tremendous opportunity and promise for intracellular delivery of a variety of imaging probes and therapeutics. While cell penetrating macromolecules can be designed and synthesized to have equivalent or even superior cell penetrating activity compared with natural CPPs, most of them suffer from moderate to severe cytotoxicity. Inspired by recent advances in peptide self-assembly and cell penetrating macromolecules, in this work, we demonstrated a new class of peptide assemblies with intrinsic cell penetrating activity and excellent cytocompatibility. Supramolecular assemblies were formed through the self-assembly of de novo designed multidomain peptides (MDPs) with a general sequence of Kx(QW)6Ey in which the numbers of lysine and glutamic acid can be varied to control supramolecular assembly, morphology and cell penetrating activity. Both supramolecular spherical particles and nanofibers exhibit much higher cell penetrating activity than monomeric MDPs while supramolecular nanofibers were found to further enhance the cell penetrating activity of MDPs. In vitro cell uptake results suggested that the supramolecular cell penetrating nanofibers undergo macropinocytosis-mediated internalization and they are capable of escaping from the lysosome to reach the cytoplasm, which highlights their great potential as highly effective intracellular therapeutic delivery vehicles and imaging probes.
- This article is part of the themed collection: RSC Advances HOT Article Collection