Protein transduction domain delivery of therapeutic macromolecules

Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2011 Dec;22(6):888-93. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2011.03.008. Epub 2011 Apr 12.


Owing to their unprecedented selectivity, specific activity and potential for 1000+ fold amplification of signal, macromolecules, such as peptides, catalytic protein domains, complete proteins, and oligonucleotides, offer great potential as therapeutic molecules. However, therapeutic use of macromolecules is limited by their poor penetration in tissues and their inability to cross the cellular membrane. The discovery of small cationic peptides that cross the membrane, called Protein Transduction Domains (PTDs) or Cell Penetrating Peptides (CPPs), in the late 1980s opened the door to cellular delivery of large, bioactive molecules. Now, PTDs are widely used as research tools, and impressively, multiple clinical trials are testing PTD-mediated delivery of macromolecular drug conjugates in patients with a variety of diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Macromolecular Substances / metabolism*
  • Macromolecular Substances / therapeutic use
  • Morpholinos / metabolism
  • Peptide Nucleic Acids / metabolism
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Protein Transport
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Morpholinos
  • Peptide Nucleic Acids
  • Proteins
  • RNA, Small Interfering