- Morelli, P.; Bartolami, E.; Sakai, N.; Matile, S. “Glycosylated Cell-Penetrating Poly(disulfide)s: Multifunctional Cellular Uptake at High Solubility” Helv. Chim. Acta 2018, 101, e1700266
The glycosylation of cell-penetrating poly(disulfide)s (CPDs) is introduced to increase the solubility of classical CPDs and to achieve multifunctional cellular uptake. With the recently developed sidechain engineering, CPDs decorated with α-d-glucose (Glu), β-d-galactose (Gal), d-trehalose (Tre), and triethyleneglycol (TEG) were readily accessible. Confocal laser scanning microscopy images of HeLa Kyoto cells incubated with the new CPDs at 2.5 μm revealed efficient uptake into cytosol and nucleoli of all glycosylated CPDs, whereas the original CPDs and TEGylated CPDs showed much precipitation into fluorescent aggregates at these high concentrations. Flow cytometry analysis identified Glu-CPDs as most active, closely followed by Gal-CPDs and Tre-CPDs, and all clearly more active than non-glycosylated CPDs. In the MTT assay, all glyco-CPDs were non-toxic at concentrations as high as 2.5 μm. Consistent with thiol-mediated uptake, glycosylated CPDs remained dependent on thiols on the cell surface for dynamic covalent exchange, their removal with Ellman's reagent DTNB efficiently inhibited uptake. Multifunctionality was demonstrated by inhibition of Glu-CPDs with d-glucose (IC50 ca. 20 mm). Insensitivity toward l-glucose and d-galactose and insensitivity of conventional CPDs toward d-glucose supported that glucose-mediated uptake of the multifunctional Glu-CPDs involves selective recognition by glucose receptors at the cell surface. Weaker but significant sensitivity of Gal-CPDs toward d-galactose but not d-glucose was noted (IC50 ca. 110 mm). Biotinylation of Glu-CPDs resulted in the efficient delivery of streptavidin together with a fluorescent model substrate. Protein delivery with Glu-CPDs was more efficient than with conventional CPDs and remained sensitive to DTNB and d-glucose, i.e., multifunctional.