Genetic engineering of proteins with cell membrane permeability

Nat Biotechnol. 1998 Apr;16(4):370-5. doi: 10.1038/nbt0498-370.


The discovery of methods for generating proteins with inherent cell membrane-translocating activity will expand our ability to study and manipulate various intracellular processes in living systems. We report a method to engineer proteins with cell-membrane permeability. After a 12-amino acid residue membrane-translocating sequence (MTS) was fused to the C-terminus of glutathione S-transferase (GST), the resultant GST-MTS fusion proteins were efficiently imported into NIH 3T3 fibroblasts and other cells. To explore the applicability of this nondestructive import method to the study of intracellular processes, a 41-kDa GST-Grb2SH2-MTS fusion protein containing the Grb2 SH2 domain was tested for its effect on the epidermal growth factor (EGF)-stimulated signaling pathway. This fusion protein entered cells, formed a complex with phosphorylated EGF receptor (EGFR), and inhibited EGF-induced EGFR-Grb2 association and mitogen-activated protein kinase activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • 3T3 Cells
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane Permeability*
  • Cricetinae
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protein Engineering*
  • Proteins / chemistry
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Temperature


  • Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Glutathione Transferase