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On demand cellular internalization of short peptides using palladium complexes

CiQUS researchers reported in JACS a designed, short peptide that displays a metal-dependent highly selective DNA binding, a reversible DNA interaction and a metal-promoted cell internalization.

The research group MEBIOCAT, led by Prof. Mascareñas have published in the journal JACS the first demonstration that metals can be used to control cell transport processes. This tactic promises to find further applications in dynamic cellular delivery. Developing strategies to promote the cell internalization of chemicals, from small drugs to larger peptides or proteins, is a major current scientific challenge, with important implications in biomedicine. The new strategy promises to find applications in the controlled intracellular delivery of different payloads. In addition, the research group, led by Prof. Mascareñas, demonstrated that the palladium trigger can also be used for controlling the interaction of these basic peptides with specific DNA sites. This is possible because the presence of the metal favors an alpha-helical organization of the peptide. The binding process can be switched on and off, at will, by playing with external triggers. The results of the article set the bases for further developing chemical tools to control different type of cellular activities. This work has been mainly carried out by the PhD student Soraya Learte, with the support of Jessica Rodríguez and postdoctoral student Natalia Curado. Reference: "Metal-Dependent DNA Recognition and Cell Internalization of Designed, Basic Peptides" J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2017, 139, 16188)


DNA binding, cell internalization, DNA recognition, Palladium trigger