Optimizing Charge Switching in Membrane Lytic Peptides for Endosomal Release of Biomacromolecules

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2020 Nov 2;59(45):19990-19998. doi: 10.1002/anie.202005887. Epub 2020 Aug 20.


Endocytic pathways are practical routes for the intracellular delivery of biomacromolecules. Along with this, effective strategies for endosomal cargo release into the cytosol are desired to achieve successful delivery. Focusing on compositional differences between the cell and endosomal membranes and the pH decrease within endosomes, we designed the lipid-sensitive and pH-responsive endosome-lytic peptide HAad. This peptide contains aminoadipic acid (Aad) residues, which serve as a safety catch for preferential permeabilization of endosomal membranes over cell membranes, and His-to-Ala substitutions enhance the endosomolytic activity. The ability of HAad to destabilize endosomal membranes was supported by model studies using large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs) and by increased intracellular delivery of biomacromolecules (including antibodies) into live cells. Cerebral ventricle injection of Cre recombinase with HAad led to Cre/loxP recombination in a mouse model, thus demonstrating potential applicability of HAad in vivo.

Keywords: cationic peptides; cell-penetrating peptides; cytosolic delivery; endosomal escape; protein delivery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Endocytosis
  • Endosomes / metabolism*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Hydrophobic and Hydrophilic Interactions
  • Peptides / metabolism*


  • Peptides