Conjugation of Therapeutic PSD-95 Inhibitors to the Cell-Penetrating Peptide Tat Affects Blood-Brain Barrier Adherence, Uptake, and Permeation

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Novel stroke therapies are needed. Inhibition of the interaction between the postsynaptic density-95 (PSD-95)/disc large/ZO-1 (PDZ) domains of PSD-95 and the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor has been suggested as a strategy for relieving neuronal damage. The peptides NR2B9c and N-dimer have been designed to hinder this interaction; they are conjugated to the cell-penetrating peptide Tat to facilitate blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeation and neuronal uptake. Tat-N-dimer exhibits 1000-fold better target affinity than Tat-NR2B9c, but the same magnitude of improvement is not observed in terms of therapeutic effect. Differences in BBB permeation by Tat-NR2B9c and Tat-N-dimer may explain this difference, but studies providing a direct comparison of Tat-NR2B9c and Tat-N-dimer are lacking. The aim of the present study was therefore to compare the BBB uptake and permeation of Tat-NR2B9c and Tat-N-dimer. The peptides were conjugated to the fluorophore TAMRA and their chemical stability assessed. Endothelial membrane association and cell uptake, and transendothelial permeation were estimated using co-cultures of primary bovine brain capillary endothelial cells and rat astrocytes. In vivo BBB permeation was demonstrated in mice using two-photon microscopy imaging. Tissue distribution was evaluated in mice demonstrating brain accumulation of TAMRA-Tat (0.4% ID/g), TAMRA-Tat-NR2B9c (0.3% ID/g), and TAMRA-Tat-N-dimer (0.25% ID/g). In conclusion, we demonstrate that attachment of NR2B9c or N-dimer to Tat affects both the chemical stability and the ability of the resulting construct to interact with and permeate the BBB.

Original languageEnglish
Article number661
Issue number7
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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