2023 Volume 71 Issue 3 Pages 250-256
Amphipathic peptides composed of cationic amino acids and hydrophobic amino acids have cell-penetrating ability and are often used as a delivery tool for membrane-impermeable compounds. Small interfering RNA (siRNAs) are one of the delivery targets for such cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs). Cationic CPPs can associate with anionic siRNAs by electrostatic interactions resulting in the formation of nano-sized complexes, which can deliver siRNAs intracellularly. CPPs containing unnatural amino acids offer promising tools to siRNA delivery. However, the detailed structure–activity relationship in siRNA delivery has been rarely studied. In the current study, we designed peptides containing dipropylglycine (Dpg) and explored the cellular uptake and cytotoxicity of peptide/siRNA complexes. The amphipathic structure of the peptides played a key role in complexation with siRNAs and intracellular siRNA delivery. In the amphipathic peptides, cellular uptake of siRNA increased with increasing peptide length, but cytotoxicity was reduced. A peptide containing four Dpg exhibited an effective gene-silencing effect with small amounts of peptides without cytotoxicity in medium containing serum. These findings will be helpful for the design of novel CPPs for siRNA delivery.