Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), the most common genetic cause of infant death, is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting motor neurons. SMA results from a loss in full-length survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein due to deletions/mutations in the SMN1 gene. In this study, we assessed the ability of cell-penetrating peptides (CPP) to deliver recombinant SMN protein to cultured neurons as a prelude for a potential therapeutic to treat SMA. Firstly, we confirmed that E. coli produced recombinant GFP protein fused to TAT (YGRKKRRQRRR; TAT-GFP) transduced rat cortical neurons in a concentration dependent manner. However, due to low yields of recombinant TATSMN protein obtainable from E. coli, we investigated the potential of a modified TAT (TATκ: YARKAARQARA) or R9 (RRRRRRRRR) peptide downstream of the fibronectin (FIB) secretory signal peptide to generate recombinant CPP-fused SMN protein. While U251 cells transduced with an adenoviral vector expressing CMV-FIB-TATκ-SMN secreted recombinant TATκ-SMN protein, we did not detect TATκ-SMN protein transduction of cortical neurons. Further, purified TATκ-SMN was unable to transduce SH-SY5Y cells, nor block apoptosis following LY294002 treatment of these cells. Our findings indicate that TATκ is not a suitable CPP to deliver SMN protein to neurons. Nonetheless, we have developed a novel method to generate full-length recombinant SMN protein using a mammalian expression system, which can be used to explore the application of other CPPs to deliver SMN protein as a treatment for SMA. © 2014 Versita and Springer-Verlag.
Anderton, R. S., Meloni, B., Mastaglia, F., & Boulos, S. (2014). Investigation of a recombinant SMN protein delivery system to treat spinal muscular atrophy. Translational Neuroscience, 5(1), 8-16. https://doi.org/10.2478/s13380-014-0201-2