Cell Penetrating Peptides
Membrane crossing by cell penetrating peptides
The discovery of a new class of cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) two decades ago rapidly changed the general view on the inability of highly polar and charged molecules to enter cells without causing irreversible membrane damage. Since then the astonishing ability of CPPs to penetrate almost any cell has been exploited to deliver various biomolecules into cells and tissues. However, mechanisms of the energy-independent direct membrane crossing by structurally diverse CPPs still remains a mystery.
We are developing a web-based tool CellPM aimed at validation of the ability of peptides to penetrate across membranes and enter the cell. This tool implements novel computational methods based on physically realistic description of peptide insertion into membranes, including formations of α-helices and β-sheets, membrane curvature and deformation by peptides, formation of pores, and passive diffusion. This tool is aimed to facilitate discovery, analysis, design, and optimization of CPPs and other membrane-active peptides and proteins.