Institute of Functional Interfaces

A Peptoid Delivers CoQ-derivative to Plant Mitochondria via Endocytosis

  • chair:

    Asfaw, K.G. / Liu, Q. / Maisch, J. / Münch, S. W. / Wehl, I. / Bräse, S. / Bogeski, I. / Schepers, U. / Nick, P. (2019)

  • place:

    Scientific Reports, 2019, 9, Article number: 9839

  • Date: Juli 2019


Controlled delivery of molecules interfering specifically with target activities in a cell of interest can be a powerful tool for experimental manipulation, because it can be administered at a defined time point and does not require genetic transformation, which in some systems is difficult and time consuming. Peptides as versatile tools that can be tailored for binding numerous binding partners, are of special interest. However, their passage through membranes, their intracellular targeting, and their sensitivity to proteases is limiting. The use of peptoids, where cationic amino-acid side chains are linked to nitrogen (rather than to carbon) of the peptide bond, can circumvent these limitations, because they are not cleavable by proteases. In the current work, we provide a proof-of-concept that such Trojan Peptoids, the plant PeptoQ, can be used to target a functional cargo (i.e. a rhodamine-labelled peptoid and a coenzyme Q10 derivative) into mitochondria of tobacco BY-2 cells as experimental model. We show that the uptake is specific for mitochondria, rapid, dose-dependent, and requires clathrin-mediated endocytosis, as well as actin filaments, while microtubules seem to be dispensable. Viability of the treated cells is not affected, and they show better survival under salt stress, a condition that perturbs oxidative homeostasis in mitochondria. In congruence with improved homeostasis, we observe that the salt induced accumulation of superoxide is mitigated and even inverted by pretreatment with PeptoQ. Using double labelling with appropriate fluorescent markers, we show that targeting of this Trojan Peptoid to the mitochondria is not based on a passage through the plasma membrane (as thought hitherto), but on import via endocytotic vesicles and subsequent accumulation in the mitochondrial intermembrane space, from where it can enter the matrix, e.g. when the permeability of the inner membrane is increased under salt stress.