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Delivery Of Mixed-Lineage Kinase Domain-Like Protein By Vapor Nanobubble Photoporation Induces Necroptotic-Like Cell Death In Tumor Cells

Lien Van Hoecke, Laurens Raes, Stephan Stremersch, Toon Brans, Juan C. Fraire, Ria Roelandt, Wim Declercq, Peter Vandenabeele, Koen Raemdonck, Kevin Braeckmans, Xavier Saelens

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Modern molecular medicine demands techniques to efficiently deliver molecules directly into mammalian cells. As proteins are the final mediators of most cellular pathways, efficient intracellular protein delivery techniques are highly desired. In this respect, photoporation is a promising recent technique for the delivery of proteins directly into living cells. Here, we show the possibility to deliver a model saccharide (FD70) and a model protein (FITC-BSA) into murine B16 melanoma cells by using the vapor nanobubble photoporation technique with an efficiency of 62% and 38%, respectively. Next, we delivered the mixed-lineage kinase domain-like (MLKL) protein, the most terminal mediator of necroptosis currently known, and caspase-8 and -3 protein, which are important proteins in the initiation and execution of apoptosis. A significant drop in cell viability with 62%, 71% and 64% cell survival for MLKL, caspase-8 and caspase-3, respectively, was observed. Remarkably, maximal cell death induction was already observed within 1 h after protein delivery. Transduction of purified recombinant MLKL by photoporation resulted in rapid cell death characterized by cell swelling and cell membrane rupture, both hallmarks of necroptosis. As necroptosis has been identified as a type of cell death with immunogenic properties, this is of interest to anti-cancer immunotherapy. On the other hand, transduction of purified recombinant active caspase-3 or -8 into the tumor cells resulted in rapid cell death preceded by membrane blebbing, which is typical for apoptosis. Our results suggest that the type of cell death of tumor cells can be controlled by direct transduction of effector proteins that are involved in the executioner phase of apoptosis or necroptosis.