Conjugation of a cell-penetrating peptide to parathyroid hormone affects its structure, potency, and transepithelial permeation

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Mie Kristensen, Anne Marit de Groot, Jens Berthelsen, Henrik Franzyk, Alice Sijts, Hanne Mørck Nielsen

Delivery of therapeutic peptides and proteins by the use of cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) as carriers has been suggested as a feasible strategy. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of conjugating a series of well-known CPPs to the biologically active part of parathyroid hormone, i.e. PTH(1-34), and to evaluate the effect with regards to secondary structure, potency in Saos-2 cells, immunogenicity, safety as well as the transepithelial permeation across monolayers by using the Caco-2 cell culture model. Further, co-administration of CPP and PTH(1-34) as an alternative to covalent conjugation was compared with regards to the transepithelial permeation. CPP-conjugated PTH(1-34) fusion peptides were successfully expressed in Escherichia coli and purified from inclusion bodies. No clear correlation between the degree of secondary structure of the CPP-conjugated PTH(1-34) fusion peptides and their potency was found, albeit a general decrease in permeation was observed for both N- and C-terminally CPP-conjugated PTH(1-34) as compared to native PTH(1-34). However, attachment of CPP to the N-terminus significantly increased permeation across Caco-2 cell monolayers as compared to the corresponding C-terminally CPP-conjugated PTH(1-34). In addition, the nonaarginine sequence proved to be the only CPP capable of increasing permeation when conjugated to PTH(1-34) as compared to co-administration of CPP and PTH(1-34). This enhancement effect was, however, associated with an unacceptable low level of cell viability. In conclusion, covalent conjugation of CPPs to PTH(1-34) influenced both the secondary structure, potency, and transepithelial permeation efficiency of the resulting conjugate, and hence this approach appears not to be favorable as compared to co-administration when optimizing CPP-mediated permeation of PTH(1-34) across an intestinal epithelium.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Pages (from-to)477-488
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2015

ID: 130643656