Membrane Oxidation Enables the Cytosolic Entry of Polyarginine Cell-penetrating Peptides* Academic Article uri icon


  • Arginine-rich peptides can penetrate cells and consequently be used as delivery agents in various cellular applications. The activity of these reagents is often context-dependent, and the parameters that impact cell entry are not fully understood, giving rise to variability and limiting progress toward their usage. Herein, we report that the cytosolic penetration of linear polyarginine peptides is dependent on the oxidation state of the cell. In particular, we find that hypoxia and cellular antioxidants inhibit cell penetration. In contrast, oxidants promote cytosolic cell entry with an efficiency proportional to the level of reactive oxygen species generated within membranes. Moreover, an antibody that binds to oxidized lipids inhibits cell penetration, whereas extracellularly administered pure oxidized lipids enhance peptide transport into cells. Overall, these data indicate that oxidized lipids are capable of mediating the transport of polyarginine peptides across membranes. These data may also explain variability in cell-penetrating peptide performance in different experimental conditions. These new findings therefore provide new opportunities for the rational design of future cell-permeable compounds and for the optimization of delivery protocols.

altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Wang, T., Sun, Y., Muthukrishnan, N., Erazo-Oliveras, A., Najjar, K., & Pellois, J.

citation count

  • 15

complete list of authors

  • Wang, Ting-Yi||Sun, Yusha||Muthukrishnan, Nandhini||Erazo-Oliveras, Alfredo||Najjar, Kristina||Pellois, Jean-Philippe

publication date

  • February 2016