Modeling of the endosomolytic activity of HA2-TAT peptides with red blood cells and ghosts. Academic Article uri icon


  • HA2-TAT is a peptide-based delivery agent that combines the pH-sensitive HA2 fusion peptide from influenza and the cell-penetrating peptide TAT from HIV. This chimeric peptide is engineered to induce the cellular uptake of macromolecules into endosomes via the TAT moiety and to respond to the acidifying lumen of endosomes to cause membrane leakage and release of macromolecules into cells via the HA2 moiety. The question of how HA2 and TAT affect the properties of one another remains, however, unanswered, and the behavior of the peptide inside endosomes is mostly uncharacterized. To address these issues, the binding and membrane leakage activity of a glutamic acid-enriched analogue E5-TAT was assessed with red blood cells and giant unilamellar vesicles as membrane models for endosomes. Hemolysis and microscopy assays reveal that E5-TAT binds to membranes in a pH-dependent manner and causes membrane leakage by inducing the formation of pores through which macromolecules can escape. The TAT moiety contributes to this activity by causing a shift in the pH response of E5 and by binding to negatively charged phospholipids. On the other hand, TAT binding to glycosaminoglycans reduces the lytic activity of E5-TAT. Addition of TAT to the C-terminus of E5 can therefore either increase or inhibit the activity of E5 depending on the cellular components present at the membrane. Taken together, these results suggest a model for the endosomolytic activity of the peptide and provide the basis for the molecular design of future delivery agents.

published proceedings

  • Biochemistry

altmetric score

  • 6.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Lee, Y., Johnson, G., & Pellois, J.

citation count

  • 33

complete list of authors

  • Lee, Ya-Jung||Johnson, Gregory||Pellois, Jean-Philippe

publication date

  • September 2010