HPMA as a scaffold for the modular assembly of functional peptide polymers by native chemical ligation
I. R. Ruttekolk, F. Duchardt, R. Fischer, K.-H. Wiesmüller, J. Rademann, R. Brock – 2008
Synthetic peptides are valuable tools in fundamental and applied biomedical research. On one hand, these molecules provide highly efficient access to competitive inhibitors of molecular interactions and enzyme substrates by rational design. On the other hand, peptides may serve as powerful vectors to mediate cellular uptake of molecules that otherwise enter cells only poorly. The coupling of both such functionalities provides access to molecules interfering with molecular processes inside the cell. However, the combination of several functionalities on one synthetic peptide may be compromised by problems associated with the synthesis of long peptides. Native chemical ligation enables the chemoselective coupling of fully deprotected functional building blocks. However, peptide thioesters are still not accessible by standard solid-phase peptide synthesis. Here, we demonstrate the cofunctionalization of a thioester-activated N-hydroxypropyl methacrylamide (HPMA) copolymer (28 500 Da) with the cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) nonaarginine and a bioactive peptide as independent building blocks by native chemical ligation. Nonaarginine was employed as a cell-penetrating peptide (CPP), a fluorescein-labeled analogue of a pro-apoptotic peptide as a biofunctional cargo. Incorporation of the fluorescein label enabled the highly sensitive quantification of the coupling stoichiometry by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) using 0.4 pmol/12 ng of labeled construct. A construct only bearing the functional cargo peptide required cellular import by electroporation in order to show activity. In contrast, a construct combining all functionalities was active upon incubation of cells, validating the modular nature of the approach.