Stimuli Induced Uptake of Protein-Like Peptide Brush Polymers

Angela P. Blum*, Jian Yin, Helen H. Lin, Blayne A. Oliver, Jacquelin K. Kammeyer, Matthew P. Thompson, Michael K. Gilson, Nathan C. Gianneschi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Recently, we presented a strategy for packaging peptides as side-chains in high-density brush polymers. For this globular protein-like polymer (PLP) formulation, therapeutic peptides were shown to resist proteolytic degradation, enter cells efficiently and maintain biological function. In this paper, we establish the role charge plays in dictating the cellular uptake of these peptide formulations, finding that peptides with a net positive charge will enter cells when polymerized, while those formed from anionic or neutral peptides remain outside of cells. Given these findings, we explored whether cellular uptake could be selectively induced by a stimulus. In our design, a cationic peptide is appended to a sequence of charge-neutralizing anionic amino acids through stimuli-responsive cleavable linkers. As a proof-of-concept study, we tested this strategy with two different classes of stimuli, exogenous UV light and an enzyme (a matrix metalloproteinase) associated with the inflammatory response. The key finding is that these materials enter cells only when acted upon by the stimulus. This approach makes it possible to achieve delivery of the polymers, therapeutic peptides or an appended cargo into cells in response to an appropriate stimulus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere202103438
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 24 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Organic Chemistry


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