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    Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) have emerged as a powerful tool for the delivery of otherwise impermeable cargoes into intact cells. Recent efforts to improve the delivery capability of peptides have mainly focused on the identity of the CPP; however, there is evidence that the identity of the cargo itself affects the uptake. The goal of this work was to investigate how the characteristics of a peptide cargo, including net charge and length, either enhance or diminish the internalization efficiency of the CPP/cargo complex. A small library of CPP/cargo complexes were synthesized consisting of structured and unstructured CPPs with cargoes of net positive, negative, or neutral charge and lengths of 4 or 8 amino acids. Cargoes with a net positive charge were found to enhance the overall uptake of the complexes while net neutral and negatively charged cargoes diminished uptake. Conversely, the net length of the cargo had no significant effect on uptake of the CPP/cargo complexes. Microcopy images confirmed the increased uptake of the positively charged cargoes; however, an increase in punctate regions with the addition of a cargo was also observed. The effects of the net positively charged cargoes were confirmed with both structured and unstructured CPPs, which demonstrated similar trends of an increase in uptake with the addition of positively charged residues. These findings demonstrate that the net charge of cargoes impacts the uptake of the complex, which can be considered in the future when designing peptide-based reporters or therapeutics.


    Hannah C Hymel, Alireza Rahnama, Olivia M Sanchez, Dong Liu, Ted J Gauthier, Adam T Melvin. How Cargo Identity Alters the Uptake of Cell-Penetrating Peptide (CPP)/Cargo Complexes: A Study on the Effect of Net Cargo Charge and Length. Cells. 2022 Apr 01;11(7)

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    PMID: 35406759

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