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Enhanced in-cell folding of reversibly cationized transcription factor using amphipathic peptide

Futami, Midori, Nakano, Tomoki, Yasunaga, Mayu, Makihara, Masahiro, Asama, Takashi, Hagihara, Yoshihisa, Nakajima, Yoshihiro, Futami, Junichiro
Journal of bioscience and bioengineering 2017 v.123 no.4 pp. 419-424
acidification, cell membranes, cytosol, endocytosis, image analysis, luciferase, monitoring, reporter genes, transcription factors
The intracellular delivery of functionally active transcription factor proteins is emerging as a promising technique for artificial regulation of cellular functions. However, in addition to the cell membrane, which acts as a barrier to macromolecules, the aggregation-favored properties of structurally flexible transcription factor proteins limit the application of this method. In-cell folding technique can be used to overcome these issues. This technique solubilizes denatured protein by reversible alkyl-disulfide cationization (S-cationization), and simultaneously endows efficient intracellular delivery and folding to the biologically active conformation in the reducing environment of the cytosol. Because cationized protein is internalized into cells by adsorption-mediated endocytosis, endosomal escape is crucial for this technique. In this study, we utilized a sensitive luciferase reporter gene assay to quantitatively evaluate in-cell folding of the artificial transcription factor GAL4-VP16. Although the cationic moiety of S-cationized protein was slightly affected, co-transduction of amphipathic peptide Endo-PORTER dramatically improved in-cell folding efficiency. Live cell imaging of fluorescent-labeled GAL4-VP16 revealed that some of the proteins diffused into the cytosol and nucleus through co-transduction with Endo-PORTER. Real-time monitoring of light output of luciferase revealed the kinetics of in-cell folding, supporting that endosomal-release assisted by Endo-PORTER was stimulated by endosome acidification. Because this method can transduce proteins uniformly and repeatedly into living cells, S-cationized transcription factor proteins are widely applicable for the artificial regulation of cellular functions.