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Digital Switching of Local Arginine Density in a Genetically Encoded Self-Assembled Polypeptide Nanoparticle Controls Cellular Uptake

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journal contribution
posted on 20.02.2016, 19:46 by Sarah R. MacEwan, Ashutosh Chilkoti
Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are a class of molecules that enable efficient internalization of a wide variety of cargo in diverse cell types, making them desirable for delivery of anticancer drugs to solid tumors. For CPPs to be useful, it is important to be able to turn their function on in response to an external trigger that can be spatially localized in vivo. Here we describe an approach to turning on CPP function by modulation of the local density of arginine (Arg) residues by temperature-triggered micelle assembly of diblock copolymer elastin-like polypeptides (ELPBCs). A greater than 8-fold increase in cellular uptake occurs when Arg residues are presented on the corona of ELPBC micelles, as compared to the same ELPBC at a temperature in which it is a soluble unimer. This approach is the first to demonstrate digital ‘off-on’ control of CPP activity by an extrinsic thermal trigger in a clinically relevant temperature range by modulation of the interfacial density of Arg residues on the exterior of a nanoparticle.