DNA transfer into human lung cells is improved with Tat-RGD peptide by caveoli-mediated endocytosis

Aparna Renigunta, Gabriela Krasteva, Peter König, Frank Rose, Walter Klepetko, Friedrich Grimminger, Werner Seeger, Jörg Hänze*

*Corresponding author for this work
34 Citations (Scopus)


Cell lines and primary cells exhibit varying degrees of resistance to DNA transfection strategies. In this study, we employed the synthetic peptide Tat-RGD (TR), composed of the HIV-1 derived translocation peptide Tat fused to the integrin binding RGD motif, as a tool for improving DNA transfer into pulmonary cells. Binding experiments between DNA and TR and cytotoxicity measurements of TR treated cells were undertaken to optimize DNA and TR concentrations for transfection. Addition of a complex of TR and DNA (TRD) to A549 cells yielded significant transgene expression. When TRD was combined with Lipofectamine (TRDL), the expression was increased by 5-fold over Lipofectamine (DL) and by ∼30-fold over TRD-mediated transfections. Also, in primary smooth muscle cells (SMC) and fibroblasts (FB) derived from pulmonary arteries, an increase in TRDL-mediated transfection efficiency was observed by a factor of ∼2 and ∼3 over that of DL. Laser scanning confocal microscopy for visualizing TR-dependent DNA uptake demonstrated that the internalization of TRDL complexes is linked to caveoli in the plasma membrane. Interfering with caveoli formation by methyl-b-cyclo-dextrin drastically decreased the transfection efficiency by TR. In conclusion, the Tat-RGD peptide mediates efficient gene delivery in human pulmonary cells, in particular when combined with a standard cationic lipid based transfection reagent. The enhancement of DNA uptake by Tat-RGD is suggested to be mediated by caveoli-dependent endocytosis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)327-334
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 03.2006


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