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Carrier-mediated intracellular protein delivery holds tremendous application potential in biology and medicine. The ideal carrier should be well-controlled and cost-effective and able to facilitate robust delivery of diverse types of proteins into the target cells, thus ensuring efficacy in different application scenarios. Here, we describe a modular chemistry approach for generating a small-molecule amphiphile molecular library based on the Ugi four-component reaction under one-pot and mild conditions. Then, two different types of amphiphiles with the dimeric or trimeric architecture were obtained for intracellular protein delivery through in vitro screening test. Depending on the precise adjustment of the hydrophobic tails of amphiphiles, the optimized trimeric amphiphile (TA) exhibited more superior protein loading performance and a higher efficiency of delivering proteins into cells through the endocytosis pathway and subsequent endosomal escape. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the TA could be a universal delivery carrier capable of transporting broad-spectrum proteins, especially for the hard-to-deliver native antibodies, into the cytosol. Overall, we describe a robust amphiphile platform with a well-defined and cost-effective design to improve the cytosolic protein delivery capacity, exhibiting great promise for developing intracellular protein-based therapeutics.


Siying Chen, Zhicheng Le, Jiayue Gu, Lixin Liu, Zhijia Liu, Yongming Chen. Exploring the Effect of Amphiphile Architecture on Intracellular Protein Delivery Capacity: Dimeric versus Trimeric Amphiphiles. ACS applied materials & interfaces. 2023 Jun 07;15(22):26328-26339

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PMID: 37219911

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