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Comb-like pseudopeptides enable very rapid and efficient intracellular trehalose delivery for enhanced cryopreservation of erythrocytes

  • Chen, S
  • Wu, L
  • Ren, J
  • Bemmer, VL
  • Zajicek, R
  • Chen, R
Publication Date
Jun 04, 2020
UPCommons. Portal del coneixement obert de la UPC


Cell cryopreservation plays a key role in development of reproducible and cost-effective cell-based therapies. Trehalose accumulated in freezing and desiccation tolerant organisms in nature has been sought as an attractive non-toxic cryoprotectant. Herein, we report a co-incubation method for very rapid and efficient delivery of membrane-impermeable trehalose into ovine erythrocytes through reversible membrane permeabilization using pH-responsive, comb-like pseudopeptides. The pseudopeptidic polymers containing relatively long alkyl side chains were synthesized to mimic membrane-anchoring fusogenic proteins. The intracellular trehalose delivery efficiency was optimized by manipulating the side chain length, degree of substitution and concentration of the pseudopeptides with different hydrophobic alkyl side chains, the pH, temperature and time of incubation, as well as the polymer-to-cell ratio and the concentration of extracellular trehalose. Treatment of erythrocytes with the comb-like pseudopeptides for only 15 min yielded an intracellular trehalose concentration of 177.9 ± 8.6 mM, which resulted in 90.3 ± 0.7% survival after freeze-thaw. The very rapid and efficient delivery was found to be attributed to the reversible, pronounced membrane curvature change as a result of strong membrane insertion of the comb-like pseudopeptides. The pseudopeptides can enable efficient intracellular delivery of not only trehalose for improved cell cryopreservation, but also other membrane-impermeable cargos.

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