Injection of molecules into cells using a pH-triggered molecular nanosyringe

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Date of Original Version



We have engineered a molecular nanosyringe that enables injection of molecules into a target cell at acidic pH, but not at normal, physiological pH. The nanosyringe consists of a water-soluble membrane peptide (pHLIP - pH (Low) Insertion Peptide), a link and a cargo molecule. Injection is driven by pHLIP, which inserts as a helix across the cell membrane and translocates one of its termini into the cytoplasm. The peptide does not exhibit any elements of secondary structure in solution or when loosely bound on the cell membrane at neutral pH. We show the injection of cell-impermeable molecules into cancer cells at pH6.5. The nanosyringe offers a novel technology for selective delivery of cargo-molecules into cancer cells by exploiting the acidic extracellular environment that is a characteristic feature of many tumors.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

2006 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Trade Show - NSTI Nanotech 2006 Technical Proceedings



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