The ability of a short, charged peptide to penetrate synthetic DOPC (1,2-dioleoyl-sn-3-glycerophosphocholine) liposomes was investigated by fluorescence confocal microscopy. The peptide, termed Tat (trans-activating transcription factor), was a 14-mer derived from the region of the HIV-1 Tat protein responsible for cellular internalization. This Tat peptide was labelled at a C-terminal cysteine residue with the fluorescent probes IAF (5-iodoacetamidofluorescein) or A568 (Alexa Fluor 568). The Tat-IAF conjugate was directly observed entering liposomes at room temperature (approx. 258C) in the absence of pH gradient, ATP or other energy source. The uptake of the Tat-A568 conjugate in unfixed, live HeLa cells was found to be via endocytosis, as expected. In contrast, when the peptide was attached to an IAF-labelled 25 kDa protein corresponding to the catalytic domain of Clostridium botulinum C3 exotoxin, this larger, Tat-C3-IAF construct was not able to enter liposomes, although it localized similarly to Tat-A568 in live cells. The data suggest that Tat peptide can cross synthetic bilayers spontaneously in vitro, but that size and type of cargo may limit this behaviour.
Translocation of the cell-penetrating Tat peptide across artificial bilayers and into living cells.
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Jeff McIlhinney, Nigel Hooper, Paul Curnow, Harry Mellor, David J. Stephens, Mark Lorch, Paula J. Booth; Translocation of the cell-penetrating Tat peptide across artificial bilayers and into living cells.. Biochem Soc Symp 1 January 2005; 72 199–209. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/bss0720199
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