Complementary leucine zippering system for effective intracellular delivery of proteins by cell-penetrating peptides

Mizuki Kitamatsu, Hiroki Yuasa, Takashi Ohtsuki, Hiroyuki Michiue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


A heterodimeric leucine zipper composed of a pair of leucine zipper peptides containing acidic or basic amino acid residues at appropriate positions in each peptide was used as a molecular glue to connect protein cargos to a cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) carrier. To investigate the hybridization properties by fluorescence experiments, we prepared an enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) fused with an acidic leucine zipper (LzK), EGFP-LzK, and a basic leucine zipper (LzE) modified with a CPP, LzE-CPP. The LzK and LzE formed a 1:1 hybrid when EGFP-LzK and LzE-CPP were mixed in phosphate buffer saline, thereby conjugating the EGFP with the CPP. The formation of the 1:1 hybrid was confirmed by fluorescence spectra and fluorescence titration curves. Results from fluorescence microscopy experiments showed that EGFP was successfully delivered into cells by conjugating with the CPP via formation of the LzK/LzE hybrid. We also fused the apoptotic protein p53 with LzK (p53-LzK) and investigated the inhibition of cell proliferation of various cell lines by incubation with the p53-LzK/LzE-CPP hybrid. This hybrid was found to localize in nuclei and successfully inhibited cell-specific proliferation. The LzE/LzK zipper system inhibited cell proliferation more efficiently than the directly fused conjugate, p53-CPP. Our method will be a useful drug delivery system for delivering bioactive proteins to treat various diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116036
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2021


  • Cell-penetrating peptide
  • Drug delivery system
  • Enhanced green fluorescent protein
  • Heterodimeric leucine zipper
  • P53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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