Cell penetrating proteins or peptides (CPPs) have the ability to cross the plasma membranes of mammalian cells in an apparently energy- and receptor-independent fashion. Although there is much debate over the mechanism by which this "protein transduction" occurs, the ability of CPPs to translocate rapidly into cells is being exploited to deliver a broad range of therapeutics including proteins, DNA, antibodies, oligonucleotides, imaging agents and liposomes in a variety of situations and biological systems. The current review looks at the delivery of many such molecules by various CPPs, and their potential therapeutic application in a wide range of areas. CPP ability to deliver different cargoes in a relatively efficient and noninvasive manner has implications as far reaching as drug delivery, gene transfer, DNA vaccination and beyond. Although many questions remain to be answered and limitations on the use of CPPs exist, it is clear that this emerging technology has much to offer in a clinical setting.
Nuclear SignallingLaboratory, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, MonashUniversity, Clayton, VIC 3800 Australia.