Electroporation-based delivery of cell-penetrating peptide conjugates of peptide nucleic acids for antisense inhibition of intracellular bacteria
Cell penetrating peptides (CPPs) have been used for a myriad of cellular delivery applications and were recently explored for delivery of antisense agents such as peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) for bacterial inhibition. Although these molecular systems (i.e. CPP–PNAs) have shown ability to inhibit growth of bacterial cultures in vitro, they show limited effectiveness in killing encapsulated intracellular bacteria in mammalian cells such as macrophages, presumably due to difficulty involved in the endosomal escape of the reagents. In this report, we show that electroporation delivery dramatically increases the bioavailability of CPP–PNAs to kill Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium LT2 inside macrophages. Electroporation delivers the molecules without involving endocytosis and greatly increases the antisense effect. The decrease in the average number of Salmonella per macrophage under a 1200 V cm_1 and 5 ms pulse was a factor of 9 higher than that without electroporation (in an experiment with a multiplicity of infection of 2 : 1). Our results suggest that electroporation is an effective approach for a wide range of applications involving CPP-based delivery. The microfluidic format will allow convenient functional screening and testing of PNA-based reagents for antisense applications.