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Taurine Boosts Cellular Uptake of Small d‑Peptides for Enzyme-Instructed Intracellular Molecular Self-Assembly

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journal contribution
posted on 19.08.2015, 00:00 by Jie Zhou, Xuewen Du, Jie Li, Natsuko Yamagata, Bing Xu
Due to their biostability, d-peptides are emerging as an important molecular platform for biomedical applications. Being proteolytically resistant, d-peptides lack interactions with endogenous transporters and hardly enter cells. Here we show that taurine, a natural amino acid, drastically boosts the cellular uptake of small d-peptides in mammalian cells by >10-fold, from 118 μM (without conjugating taurine) to >1.6 mM (after conjugating taurine). The uptake of a large amount of the ester conjugate of taurine and d-peptide allows intracellular esterase to trigger intracellular self-assembly of the d-peptide derivative, further enhancing their cellular accumulation. The study on the mechanism of the uptake reveals that the conjugates enter cells via both dynamin-dependent endocytosis and macro­pino­cytosis, but likely not relying on taurine transporters. Differing fundamentally from the positively charged cell-penetrating peptides, the biocompatibility, stability, and simplicity of the enzyme-cleavable taurine motif promise new ways to promote the uptake of bioactive molecules for countering the action of efflux pump and contributing to intracellular molecular self-assembly.