Activating peptides for cellular uptake via polymerization into high density brushes

Angela P. Blum, Jacquelin K. Kammeyer, Nathan C. Gianneschi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The utility of peptide therapeutics is thwarted by an inability to enter cells, preventing access to crucial intracellular targets. Herein, we describe a simple and potentially widely applicable solution involving the polymerization of a minimally modified amino acid sequence into a high density brush polymer. Specifically, non-cell penetrating peptides can be rendered competent for cell entry by first including a single Arg or Lys in their amino acid sequence, if one is not already present, along with a norbornenyl unit. This modified monomer is then polymerized by ring opening metathesis polymerization (ROMP). To demonstrate the utility of this strategy, a known therapeutic peptide, which does not penetrate cells on its own, was polymerized. The resulting polymer proficiently entered cells while maintaining its intracellular function. We anticipate that this methodology will find broad use in medicine, increasing or enabling the in vivo efficacy of promising peptide therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)989-994
Number of pages6
JournalChemical Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry


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