Protease-resistant peptides for targeting and intracellular delivery of therapeutics


Lucana, Maria C.; Arruga, Yolanda; Petrachi, Emilia; Roig, Albert; Lucchi, Roberta; Oller-Salvia, Benjamí


Peptides show high promise in the targeting and intracellular delivery of next-generation bio- and nano-therapeutics. However, the proteolytic susceptibility of peptides is one of the major limitations of their activity in biological environments. Numerous strategies have been devised to chemically enhance the resistance of peptides to proteolysis, ranging from N- and C-termini protection to cyclization, and including backbone modification, incorporation of amino acids with non-canonical side chains and conjugation. Since conjugation of nanocarriers or other cargoes to peptides for targeting and cell penetration may already provide some degree of shielding, the question arises about the relevance of using protease-resistant sequences for these applications. Aiming to answer this question, here we provide a critical review on protease-resistant targeting peptides and cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs). Two main approaches have been used on these classes of peptides: enantio/retro-enantio isomerization and cyclization. On one hand, enantio/retro-enantio isomerization has been shown to provide a clear enhancement in peptide efficiency with respect to parent L-amino acid peptides, especially when applied to peptides for drug delivery to the brain. On the other hand, cyclization also clearly increases peptide transport capacity, although contribution from enhanced protease resistance or affinity is often not dissected. Overall, we conclude that although conjugation often offers some degree of protection to proteolysis in targeting peptides and CPPs, modification of peptide sequences to further enhance protease resistance can greatly increase homing and transport efficiency.








Pharmaceutics, December 2021, v.13, n.12, 2065

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