Harnessing the Activity of the Fungal Metalloprotease, Mpr1, to Promote Crossing of Nanocarriers through the Blood-Brain Barrier

Phylicia A. Aaron, Angie Gelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cryptococcus neoformans (Cn) is the leading cause of fungal meningitis primarily in immunosuppressed patients. Cn invades the central nervous system by overcoming the highly restricted blood-brain barrier (BBB). We previously determined that a secreted fungal metalloprotease, Mpr1, that also confers crossing ability to yeast upon CnMPR1 expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is central to this process. This led us to question whether Mpr1 could be engineered to function as part of a nanocarrier delivery vehicle. Here, a eukaryotic expression system produced proteolytically active Mpr1 recombinant protein that was successfully conjugated to functionalized quantum dot (QD) nanoparticles and readily internalized by brain microvascular endothelial cells. An in vitro BBB model showed QD-Mpr1 crossed the BBB significantly better than mock QD, and QD-Mpr1 did not damage BBB integrity. Internalization of QD-Mpr1 occurred by membrane invaginations and endocytic pits typical of receptor-mediated endocytosis involving clathrin-coated entry points. This study substantiates the notion that fungal mechanisms of BBB entry may be harnessed for new drug delivery platform technologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-149
Number of pages12
JournalACS Infectious Diseases
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 10 2020

Keywords

  • blood-brain barrier
  • Cryptococcus neoformans
  • mass spectrometry
  • metalloprotease
  • Mpr1
  • nanoparticles
  • Pichia pastoris
  • quantum dots
  • TEM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases

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