Coupling to polymeric scaffolds stabilizes biofunctional peptides for intracellular applications
I. Ruttekolk, A. Chakrabarti, M. Richter, F. Duchardt, H. Glauner, W.P.R. Verdurmen, J. Rademann, R. Brock – 2011
Here, we demonstrate that coupling to N-hydroxypropyl methacrylamide (HPMA) copolymer greatly enhances the activity of apoptosis-inducing peptides inside cells. Peptides corresponding to the BH3 domain of Bid were coupled to a thioester-activated HPMA (28.5 kDa) via native chemical ligation in a simple one-pot synthesis. Peptides and polymer conjugates were introduced into cells either by electroporation or by conjugation to the cell-penetrating peptide nona-arginine. The molecular basis of the increased activity is elucidated in detail. Loading efficiency and intracellular residence time were assessed by confocal microscopy. Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy was used as a separation-free analytical technique to determine proteolytic degradation in crude cell lysates. HPMA conjugation strongly increased the half-life of the peptides in crude cell lysates and inside cells, revealing proteolytic protection as the basis for higher activity.