Establishment of protein delivery systems targeting podocytes

PLoS One. 2010 Jul 29;5(7):e11837. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011837.


Background: Podocytes are uniquely structured cells that are critical to the kidney filtration barrier. Their anatomic location on the outer side of the glomerular capillaries expose podocytes to large quantities of both plasma and urinary components and thus are reachable for drug delivery. Recent years have made clear that interference with podocyte-specific disease pathways can modulate glomerular function and influence severity and progression of glomerular disease.

Methodology/principal findings: Here, we describe studies that show efficient transport of proteins into the mammalian cells mouse 3T3 fibroblasts and podocytes, utilizing an approach termed profection. We are using synthetic lipid structures that allow the safe packing of proteins or antibodies resulting in the subsequent delivery of protein into the cell. The uptake of lipid coated protein is facilitated by the intrinsic characteristic of cells such as podocytes to engulf particles that are physiologically retained in the extracellular matrix. Profection of the restriction enzyme MunI in 3T3 mouse fibroblasts caused an increase in DNA degradation. Moreover, purified proteins such as beta-galactosidase and the large GTPase dynamin could be profected into podocytes using two different profection reagents with the success rate of 95-100%. The delivered beta-galactosidase enzyme was properly folded and able to cleave its substrate X-gal in podocytes. Diseased podocytes are also potential recipients of protein cargo as we also delivered fluorophore labeled IgG into puromycin treated podocytes. We are currently optimizing our protocol for in vivo profection.

Conclusions: Protein transfer is developing as an exciting tool to study and target highly differentiated cells such as podocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / pharmacology
  • Dynamins / administration & dosage
  • Dynamins / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Immunoglobulins / administration & dosage
  • Immunoglobulins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Podocytes / drug effects
  • Podocytes / metabolism*
  • Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Puromycin Aminonucleoside / pharmacology
  • beta-Galactosidase / administration & dosage
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Proteins
  • Puromycin Aminonucleoside
  • beta-Galactosidase
  • Dynamins