Crotamine cell-penetrating nanocarriers: cancer-targeting and potential biotechnological and/or medical applications

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Crotamine is a basic, 42-residue polypeptide from snake venom that has been shown to possess cell-penetrating properties. Here we describe the preparation, purification, biochemical and biophysical analysis of venom-derived, recombinant, chemically synthesized, and fluorescent-labeled crotamine. We also describe the formation and characterization of crotamine–DNA and crotamine–RNA nanoparticles; and the delivery of these nanoparticles into cells and animals. Crotamine forms nanoparticles with a variety of DNA and RNA molecules, and crotamine–plasmid DNA nanoparticles are selectively delivered into actively proliferating cells in culture or in living organisms such as mice, Plasmodium, and worms. As such, these nanoparticles could form the basis for a nucleic acid drug-delivery system. We also describe here the design and characterization of crotamine-functionalized gold nanoparticles, and the delivery of these nanoparticles into cells. We also evaluated the viability of using the combination of crotamine with silica nanoparticles in animal models, aiming to provide slow delivery, and to decrease the crotamine doses needed for the biological effects. In addition, the efficacy of administering crotamine orally was also demonstrated.
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