You are here

In-Cell Penetration Selection-Mass Spectrometry Produces Noncanonical Peptides for Antisense Delivery

Schissel CK, Farquhar CE, Loas A, Malmberg AB, Pentelute BL
ACS Chem Biol. 2023 Mar 1. doi: 10.1021/acschembio.2c00920. Online ahead of print
Peptide-mediated delivery of macromolecules in cells has significant potential therapeutic benefits, but no therapy employing cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) has reached the market after 30 years of investigation due to challenges in the discovery of new, more efficient sequences. Here, we demonstrate a method for in-cell penetration selection-mass spectrometry (in-cell PS-MS) to discover peptides from a synthetic library capable of delivering macromolecule cargo to the cytosol. This method was inspired by recent in vivo selection approaches for cell-surface screening, with an added spatial dimension resulting from subcellular fractionation. A representative peptide discovered in the cytosolic extract, Cyto1a, is nearly 100-fold more active toward antisense phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer (PMO) delivery compared to a sequence identified from a whole cell extract, which includes endosomes. Cyto1a is composed of d-residues and two non-α-amino acids, is more stable than its all-l isoform, and is less toxic than known CPPs with comparable activity. Pulse-chase and microscopy experiments revealed that while the PMO-Cyto1a conjugate is likely taken up by endosomes, it can escape to localize to the nucleus without nonspecifically releasing other endosomal components. In-cell PS-MS introduces a means to empirically discover unnatural synthetic peptides for subcellular delivery of therapeutically relevant cargo.
Organism or Cell Type: 
cell culture: HeLa
Delivery Method: