An Artificial Amphiphilic Peptide Promotes Endocytic Uptake by Inducing Membrane Curvature

Bioconjug Chem. 2020 Jun 17;31(6):1611-1615. doi: 10.1021/acs.bioconjchem.0c00239. Epub 2020 May 13.


Membrane curvature plays a pivotal role in cellular life, including cellular uptake and membrane trafficking. The modulation of membrane curvature provides a novel means of manipulating cellular events. In this report, we show that a nine-residue amphiphilic peptide (R6W3) stimulates endocytic uptake by inducing membrane curvature. Curvature formation on cell membranes was confirmed by observing the cellular distribution of the curvature-sensing protein amphiphysin fused with a yellow fluorescent protein (Amp-YFP). Dot-like signals of Amp-YFP were visible following the addition of R6W3, suggesting curvature formation in cell membranes, leading to endocytic cup and vesicle formation. The promotion of endocytic uptake was confirmed using the endocytosis marker polydextran. Treatment of cells with R6W3 yielded a 4-fold dextran uptake compared with untreated cells. The amphiphilic helical structure of R6W3 was also crucial for R6W3-stimulated endocytic uptake.