The HIV Tat protein transduction domain improves the biodistribution of beta-glucuronidase expressed from recombinant viral vectors

Nat Biotechnol. 2001 Jul;19(7):640-4. doi: 10.1038/90242.


Treatment of inherited genetic diseases of the brain remains an intractable problem. Methods to improve the distribution of enzymes that are injected or expressed from transduced cells will be required for many human brain therapies. Recent studies showed that a peptide, the protein transduction domain (PTD) from HIV Tat, could improve the distribution of cytoplasmic reporter proteins when administered systemically as fusion proteins or cross-linked chimeras. The utility of this motif for noncytoplasmic proteins has not been determined. Here, we tested how the Tat motif affected uptake and biodistribution of the lysosomal enzyme beta-glucuronidase, the protein deficient in the disease mucopolysaccharidosis VII, when expressed from viral vectors. The Tat motif allowed for mannose-6-phosphate (M6P) independent uptake in vitro and significantly increased the distribution of beta-glucuronidase secreted from transduced cells after intravenous or direct brain injection in mice of recombinant vectors. Thus, enzymes modified to contain protein transduction motifs may represent a general strategy for improving the distribution of secreted proteins following in vivo gene transfer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Adenoviridae / genetics
  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases / therapy*
  • Cytoplasm / metabolism
  • Endocytosis
  • Gene Products, tat / chemistry*
  • Genetic Therapy*
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Genotype
  • Glucuronidase / biosynthesis*
  • Glucuronidase / genetics*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Lysosomes / enzymology
  • Mannosephosphates / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protein Transport
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Gene Products, tat
  • Mannosephosphates
  • mannose-6-phosphate
  • Glucuronidase