Statin-boosted cellular uptake and endosomal escape of penetratin due to reduced membrane dipole potential.

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Cell penetrating peptides are promising tools for delivery of cargo into cells, but factors limiting or facilitating their cellular uptake are largely unknown. We set out to study the effect of the biophysical properties of the cell membrane on the uptake of penetratin, a cell penetrating peptide.Using labeling with pH-insensitive and pH-sensitive dyes, the kinetics of cellular uptake and endo-lysosomal escape of penetratin were studied by flow cytometry.We report that escape of penetratin from acidic endo-lysosomal compartments is retarded compared to its total cellular uptake. The membrane dipole potential, known to alter transmembrane transport of charged molecules, is shown to be negatively correlated with the concentration of penetratin in the cytoplasmic compartment. Treatment of cells with therapeutically relevant concentrations of atorvastatin, an inhibitor of HMG-CoA reductase and cholesterol synthesis, significantly increased endosomal escape of penetratin in two different cell types. This effect of atorvastatin correlated with its ability to decrease the membrane dipole potential.These results highlight the importance of the dipole potential in regulating cellular uptake of cell penetrating peptides and suggest a clinically relevant way of boosting this process.

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Authors: Gyula Batta, Levente Kárpáti, Gabriela Fulaneto Henrique, Gabriella Tóth, Szabolcs Tarapcsák, Tamás Kovács, Florina Zákány, István M Mándity, Peter Nagy