Efficient delivery of nucleic acids into cells still remains a great challenge. Peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) are DNA analogues with a neutral backbone and are synthesized by solid phase peptide chemistry. This allows a straightforward synthetic route to introduce a linear short peptide (a.k.a. cell-penetrating peptide) to the PNA molecule as a means of facilitating cellular uptake of PNAs. Herein, we have devised a synthetic route in which a cyclic peptide is prepared on a solid support and is extended with the PNA molecule, where all syntheses are accomplished on the solid phase. This allows the conjugation of the cyclic peptide to the PNA molecule with the need of only one purification step after the cyclic peptide-PNA conjugate (C9-PNA) is cleaved from the solid support. The PNA sequence chosen is an antimiR-155 molecule that is complementary to mature miR-155, a well-established oncogenic miRNA. By labeling C9-PNA with fluorescein isothiocyanate, we observe efficient cellular uptake into glioblastoma cells (U87MG) at a low concentration (0.5 μM), as corroborated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis and confocal microscopy. FACS analysis also suggests an uptake mechanism that is energy-dependent. Finally, the antimiR activity of C9-PNA was shown by analyzing miR155 levels by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and by observing a reduction in cell viability and proliferation in U87MG cells, as corroborated by XTT and colony formation assays. Given the added biological stability of cyclic versus linear peptides, this synthetic approach may be a useful and straightforward approach to synthesize cyclic peptide-PNA conjugates.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 476/17). E.Y. acknowledges the David R. Bloom Center for Pharmacy and the Alex Grass Center for Drug Design and Synthesis of Novel Therapeutics for financial support. THESCs uterus cells and Nf08 uterus cells were generously provided by Prof. R. Reich (Hebrew University).
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