Walking into Cells

  • Author: Chemistry – A European Journal
  • Published Date: 18 April 2019
  • Source / Publisher: Chemistry – A European Journal/Wiley-VCH
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
thumbnail image: Walking into Cells

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Finding new ways to deliver cargo into cells is a challenge in the life sciences. Solutions from chemistry could help with this problem. Stefan Matile, University of Geneva and National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Molecular Systems Engineering, Basel, both Switzerland, and colleagues have found that diselenolanes can deliver biologically relevant substrates efficiently into the cytosol (i.e., the intracellular fluid) of various cells.

The team used diseleno lipoic acid and connected it with the intended cargo using non-covalent interactions. They used confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) to track the transport into different types of cells, e.g., HeLa Kyoto cells derived from human cervical cancer and mouse myoblast cells. The system can transport, for example, peptide probes, artificial metalloenzymes, or quantum dots useful for bioimaging.

According to the researchers, the transport could be explained by dynamic covalent dichalcogenide exchange chemistry. The diselenolanes "walk" along disulfide "tracks" in membrane proteins (pictured) and melt their way across the bilayer membrane by temporary local denaturation of the proteins. The system can transport substrates which are two orders of magnitude larger than the diselenolanes.


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Magazine of Chemistry Europe (16 European Chemical Societies) published by Wiley-VCH