Protein prenylation involves the addition of either a farnesyl (C 15) or geranylgeranyl (C 20) isoprenoid moiety onto the C-terminus of many proteins. This natural modification serves to direct a protein to the plasma membrane of the cell. A recently discovered application of prenylated peptides is that they have inherent cell-penetrating ability, and are hence termed cell penetrating prenylated peptides. These peptides are able to efficiently cross the cell membrane in an ATP independent, non-endocytotic manner and it was found that the sequence of the peptide does not affect uptake, so long as the geranylgeranyl group is still present [Wollack, J. W.; Zeliadt, N. A.; Mullen, D. G.; Amundson, G.; Geier, S.; Falkum, S.; Wattenberg, E. V.; Barany, G.; Distefano, M. D. Multifunctional Prenylated Peptides for Live Cell Analysis. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131, 7293-7303]. The present study investigates the effect of removing the fluorophore from the peptides and investigating the uptake by confocal microscopy and flow cytometry. Our results show that the fluorophore is not necessary for uptake of these peptides. This information is significant because it indicates that the prenyl group is the major determinant in allowing these peptides to enter cells; the hydrophobic fluorophore has little effect. Moreover, these studies demonstrate the utility of the Cu-catalyzed click reaction for monitoring the entry of nonfluorescent peptides into cells.
- Cell-penetrating peptide
- Lipid modification
- Post-translational modification