Chemistry and Biochemistry

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The use of cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) as biomolecular delivery vehicles holds great promise for therapeutic and other applications, but development has been stymied by poor delivery and lack of endosomal escape. We have developed a CPP-adaptor system capable of efficient intracellular delivery and endosomal escape of user-defined protein cargos. The cell penetrating sequence of HIV transactivator of transcription was fused to calmodulin, which binds with subnanomolar affinity to proteins containing a calmodulin binding site. Our strategy has tremendous advantage over prior CPP technologies because it utilizes high affinity noncovalent, but reversible coupling between CPP and cargo. Three different cargo proteins fused to a calmodulin binding sequence were delivered to the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells and released, demonstrating the feasibility of numerous applications in living cells including alteration of signaling pathways and gene expression.

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Journal of Cell Science

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