A High-Throughput Synthetic Platform Enables the Discovery of Proteomimetic Cell Penetrating Peptides and Bioportides

  • Sarah Jones
  • Shaimaa Osman
  • John HowlEmail author


Collectively, cell penetrating peptide (CPP) vectors and intrinsically active bioportides possess tremendous potential for drug delivery applications and the discrete modulation of intracellular targets including the sites of protein–protein interactions (PPIs). Such sequences are usually relatively short (< 25 AA), polycationic in nature and able to access the various intracellular compartments of eukaryotic cells without detrimental influences upon cellular biology. The high-throughput platform for bioportide discovery described herein exploits the discovery that many human proteins are an abundant source of potential CPP sequences which are reliably predicted using QSAR algorithms or other methods. Subsequently, microwave-enhanced solid phase peptides synthesis provides a high-throughput source of novel proteomimetic CPPs for screening purposes. By focussing upon cationic helical domains, often located within the molecular interfaces that facilitate PPIs, bioportides which act by a dominant-negative mechanism at such sites can be reliably identified within small number libraries of CPPs. Protocols that employ fluorescent peptides, routinely prepared by N-terminal acylation with carboxytetramethylrhodamine, further enable both the quantification of cellular uptake kinetics and the identification of specific site(s) of intracellular accretion. Chemical modifications of linear peptides, including strategies to promote and stabilise helicity, are compatible with the synthesis of second-generation bioportides with improved drug-like properties to further exploit the inherent selectivity of biologics.


Bioportide Cell penetrating peptide Microwave-enhanced peptide synthesis Confocal microscopy 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the support provided by Chris Mason and CEM towards the development and maintenance of a microwave-enhanced peptide synthesis facility. Shaimaa Osman was in receipt of Newton-Mosharafa Fellowship from 2015 to 2017.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Research Involving with Human and Animal Participants

This article does not present and studies performed with human participants or animal.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Institute in Healthcare ScienceUniversity of WolverhamptonWolverhamptonUK
  2. 2.Peptide Chemistry DepartmentNational Research CentreCairoEgypt

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