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Cytosolic Delivery of Argininosuccinate Synthetase Using a Cell-Permeant Miniature Protein.


Citrullinemia type I (CTLN-I) results from the absence or deficiency of argininosuccinate synthetase (AS), a 46 kDa enzyme that acts in the cytosol of hepatocytes to convert aspartic acid and citrulline into argininosuccinic acid. AS is an essential component of the urea cycle, and its absence or deficiency results in the harmful accumulation of ammonia in blood and cerebrospinal fluid. No disease-modifying treatment of CTLN-I exists. Here we report that the cell-permeant miniature protein (CPMP) ZF5.3 (ZF) can deliver AS to the cytosol of cells in culture and the livers of healthy mice. The fusion protein ZF-AS is catalytically active in vitro, stabilized in plasma, and traffics successfully to the cytosol of cultured Saos-2 and SK-HEP-1 cells, achieving cytosolic concentrations greater than 100 nM. This value is 3-10-fold higher than the concentration of endogenous AS (11 ± 1 to 44 ± 5 nM). When injected into healthy C57BL/6 mice, ZF-AS reaches the mouse liver to establish concentrations almost 200 nM above baseline. These studies demonstrate that ZF5.3 can deliver a complex enzyme to the cytosol at therapeutically relevant concentrations and support its application as an improved delivery vehicle for therapeutic proteins that function in the cytosol, including enzyme replacement therapies.

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