Mitochondria-Penetrating Peptides

Kristin L. Horton, Kelly M. Stewart, Sonali B. Fonseca, Qian Guo, Shana O. Kelley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

339 Scopus citations


Mitochondria are important targets for cancer chemotherapy and other disease treatments. Gaining access to this organelle can be difficult, as the inner membrane is a barrier limiting diffusive transport. A mitochondrial molecular carrier would be a boon to the development of organelle-specific therapeutics. Here, we report a significant advance in the development of mitochondrial transporters-synthetic cell-permeable peptides that are able to enter mitochondria. Efficient uptake of these mitochondria-penetrating peptides (MPPs) is observed in a variety of cell types, and organellar specificity is attained with sequences that possess specific chemical properties. The MPPs identified are cationic, but also lipophilic; this combination of characteristics facilitates permeation of the hydrophobic mitochondrial membrane. The examination of a panel of MPPs illustrates that mitochondrial localization can be rationally controlled and finely tuned by altering lipophilicity and charge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-382
Number of pages8
JournalChemistry and Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 21 2008
Externally publishedYes



ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology


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