Various cell-penetrating peptides have been discovered recently that can translocate across plasma membranes and can even carry large cargo molecules into the cells. Because under physiological conditions most of these peptides carry considerable positive charges due to the presence of basic amino acids such as arginine, we decided to investigate whether molecular transporters composed of permanently charged side-chains also possess such cell penetrating ability. Arginine-rich oligomers that have a backbone with increased flexibility due to incorporation of non-α-amino acids (ε-aminocaproic acid) have been found to be effective molecular transporters. Here, we report the preparation of analogue structures by replacing the arginine residues with the quaternary form of a novel redox amino acid (Nys+) that contain a trigonelline moiety; it has already been shown possible to replace the original basic amino acid side-chain of neuropeptides without significant activity-loss due to the sufficiently close steric and electronic analogy between the new Nys+ and the original side-chains (in their protonated form, e.g., Arg+, Lys+). A nonamer analogue showed transporter activity resulting in increased cellular uptake in human carcinoma (HeLa) cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmaceutical Science