Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs), also referred to as protein transduction domains (PTDs), can mediate the cellular uptake of a wide range of macromolecules including peptides, proteins, oligonucleotides, and nanoparticles, and thus have received considerable attention as a promising method for drug delivery in vivo. Here, we report that CPP/PTDs facilitate the extravasation of fused proteins by binding to neuropilin-1 (NRP1), a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) co-receptor expressed on the surface of endothelial and some tumor cells. In this study, we examined the capacity of the amphipathic and cationic CPP/PTDs, PTD-3 and TAT-PTD, respectively, to bind cells in vitro and accumulate in xenograft tumors in vivo. Notably, these functions were significantly suppressed by pre-treatment with NRP1-neutralizing Ab. Furthermore, co-injection of iRGD, a cyclic peptide known to increase NRP1-dependent vascular permeability, significantly reduced CPP/PTD tumor delivery. This data demonstrates a mechanism by which NRP1 promotes the extravasation of CPP/PTDs that may open new avenues for the development of more efficient CPP/PTD delivery systems.
Keywords: Cell penetrating peptide; Drug delivery; Extravasation; Neuropilin-1; Protein transduction domain.
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