Cyclotides are macrocyclic peptides with exceptionally stable structures and have been reported to penetrate cells, making them promising scaffolds for the delivery of inhibitory peptides to target intracellular proteins. However, their cellular uptake and cytosolic localization have been poorly understood until now, which has limited their therapeutic potential. In this study, the recently developed chloroalkane penetration assay was combined with established assays to characterize the cellular uptake and cytosolic delivery of the prototypic cyclotide, kalata B1. The researchers show that kalata B1 enters the cytosol at low efficiency. A structure–activity study of residues in loop 6 showed that some modifications, such as increasing cationic residue content, did not affect delivery efficiency, whereas others, including introducing a single hydrophobic amino acid, did significantly improve cytosolic delivery. The results provide a foundation for the further development of a structurally unique class of scaffolds for the delivery of therapeutic cargoes into cells.
Cellular Uptake and Cytosolic Delivery of a Cyclic Cystine Knot Scaffold
Huawu Yin , Yen-Hua Huang, Kirsten Deprey, Nicholas D. Condon, Joshua A. Kritzer, David J. Craik, and Conan K. Wang
ACS Chem. Biol. 2020, 15, 6, 1650–1661