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Intracellular Delivery of Functional Proteins and Native Drugs by Cell-Penetrating Poly(disulfide)s

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posted on 23.09.2015, 00:00 by Jiaqi Fu, Changmin Yu, Lin Li, Shao Q. Yao
The efficient delivery of bioactive compounds into cells is a major challenge in drug discovery. We report herein the development of novel methods for intracellular delivery of functional proteins (including antibodies) and native small-molecule drugs by making use of cell-penetrating poly­(disulfide)­s (CPDs). CPDs were recently shown to be rapidly taken up by mammalian cells in endocytosis-independent pathways, but their applications for delivery of proteins and native small-molecule drugs have not been demonstrated. With our newly developed, CPD-assisted approaches, rapid and “bioorthogonal” loading of cargos was carried out with pre-synthesized CPDs, in two steps and in a matter of minutes under aqueous conditions. The resulting CPD–cargo conjugates were used immediately for subsequent cell delivery studies. With the versatility and flexibility of these methods, we further showed that they could be used for immediate delivery of a variety of functional cargos with minimum chemical and genetic manipulations. The minimal cell cytotoxicity of these CPDs and their cargo-loaded conjugates further highlights the unique advantage of this new cell-transduction method over other existing strategies and ensures that our entire delivery protocol is compatible with subsequent live-cell experiments and biological studies.