An anionic, endosome-escaping polymer to potentiate intracellular delivery of cationic peptides, biomacromolecules, and nanoparticles

Nat Commun. 2019 Nov 1;10(1):5012. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-12906-y.


Peptides and biologics provide unique opportunities to modulate intracellular targets not druggable by conventional small molecules. Most peptides and biologics are fused with cationic uptake moieties or formulated into nanoparticles to facilitate delivery, but these systems typically lack potency due to low uptake and/or entrapment and degradation in endolysosomal compartments. Because most delivery reagents comprise cationic lipids or polymers, there is a lack of reagents specifically optimized to deliver cationic cargo. Herein, we demonstrate the utility of the cytocompatible polymer poly(propylacrylic acid) (PPAA) to potentiate intracellular delivery of cationic biomacromolecules and nano-formulations. This approach demonstrates superior efficacy over all marketed peptide delivery reagents and enhances delivery of nucleic acids and gene editing ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) formulated with both commercially-available and our own custom-synthesized cationic polymer delivery reagents. These results demonstrate the broad potential of PPAA to serve as a platform reagent for the intracellular delivery of cationic cargo.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acrylates / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Anions / chemistry
  • Cations / chemistry
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods
  • Endosomes / chemistry*
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Space / metabolism
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Macromolecular Substances / administration & dosage
  • Macromolecular Substances / chemistry*
  • Mice
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Nanoparticles / administration & dosage
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Peptides / administration & dosage
  • Peptides / chemistry*
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • RAW 264.7 Cells
  • Rats
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Acrylates
  • Anions
  • Cations
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Peptides
  • Polymers
  • poly(propyl acrylic acid)