Rapid and reversible knockdown of endogenous proteins by peptide-directed lysosomal degradation

Nat Neurosci. 2014 Mar;17(3):471-80. doi: 10.1038/nn.3637. Epub 2014 Jan 26.


Rapid and reversible methods for altering the levels of endogenous proteins are critically important for studying biological systems and developing therapeutics. Here we describe a membrane-permeant targeting peptide-based method that rapidly and reversibly knocks down endogenous proteins through chaperone-mediated autophagy in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrate the specificity, efficacy and generalizability of the method by showing efficient knockdown of various proteins, including death associated protein kinase 1 (160 kDa), scaffolding protein PSD-95 (95 kDa) and α-synuclein (18 kDa), with their respective targeting peptides in a dose-, time- and lysosomal activity-dependent manner in rat neuronal cultures. Moreover, we show that, when given systemically, the peptide system efficiently knocked down the targeted protein in the brains of intact rats. Our study provides a robust and convenient research tool for manipulating endogenous protein levels and may also lead to the development of protein knockdown-based therapeutics for treating human diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Technical Report

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / drug effects
  • Autophagy / physiology
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Composite Resins / metabolism*
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Lysosomes / metabolism*
  • Peptides / physiology*
  • Protein Biosynthesis / physiology
  • Rats


  • BR 100
  • Composite Resins
  • Peptides