The discovery of cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) has facilitated delivery of peptides into cells to affect cellular behavior. Previously, we were successful at developing a phosphopeptide mimetic of the small heat shock-like protein HSP20 . Building on this success we developed a cell-permeant peptide inhibitor of mitogen-activated protein kinase-activated protein kinase 2 (MK2). It is well documented that inhibition of MK2 may be beneficial for a myriad of human diseases including those involving inflammation and fibrosis. During the optimization of the activity and specificity of the MK2 inhibitor (MK2i) we closely examined the effect of cell-penetrating peptide identity. Surprisingly, the identity of the CPP dictated kinase specificity and functional activity to an extent that rivaled that of the therapeutic peptide. The results reported herein have wide implications for delivering therapeutics with CPPs and indicate that judicious choice of CPP is crucial to the ultimate therapeutic success.
Published in 2009 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.