Targeting the sodium-dependent multivitamin transporter (SMVT) for improving the oral absorption properties of a retro-inverso Tat nonapeptide

S. Ramanathan, S. Pooyan, S. Stein, P. D. Prasad, J. Wang, M. J. Leibowitz, V. Ganapathy, P. J. Sinko

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56 Scopus citations


Purpose. To investigate the potential for delivering large peptides orally by altering their absorptive transport pathways and improving intestinal permeability. The absorptive transport of retro-inverso (R.I.-) K-Tat9 and R.I.-K(biotin)-Tat9, novel peptidic inhibitors of the Tat protein of HIV-1, and their interactions with human SMVT (hSMVT), a high affinity, low capacity transporter, were investigated using Caco-2 and transfected CHO cells. Methods. Following synthesis on a PAL resin using Fmoc chemistry, the transport of R.I.-K-Tat9 (0.01-25 μM) and R.I.-K(biotin)-Tat9 (0.1-25 μM) was evaluated across Caco-2 cells. The transport and kinetics of biotin, biocytin and desthiobiotin (positive controls for SMVT) were also determined. Uptake of R.I.-K-Tat9 and R.I.-K(biotin)-Tat9 (both 0.1-10 μM) was determined in CHO/hSMVT and CHO/pSPORT (control) cells. Results. The absorptive transport of R.I.-K-Tat9 was passive, low (Pm ∼ 1 × 10-6 cm/sec) and not concentration dependent. R.I.-K(biotin)-Tat9 permeability was 3.2-fold higher than R.I.-K-Tat9 demonstrating active (Ea = 9.1 kcal/mole), concentration dependent and saturable transport (Km = 3.3 μM). R.I.-K(biotin)-Tat9 uptake in CHO/hSMVT cells (Km = 1.0 μM) was ∼ 500-fold greater than R.I.-K-Tat9 (at 10 μM). R.I.-K(biotin)-Tat9 transport in Caco-2 and CHO/hSMVT cells was significantly inhibited by known substrates of SMVT including biotin, biocytin, and desthiobiotin. Passive uptake of R.I.-K(biotin)-Tat9 was significantly greater than R.I.-K-Tat9 uptake in CHO/pSPORT cells. Conclusions. These results demonstrate that the structural modification of R.I.-K-Tat9 to R.I.-K(biotin)-Tat9 altered its intestinal transport pathway resulting in a significant improvement in its absorptive permeability by enhancing nonspecific passive and carrier-mediated uptake by means of SMVT. The specific interactions between R.I.-K(biotin)-Tat9 and SMVT suggest that targeting approaches utilizing transporters such as SMVT may substantially improve the oral delivery of large peptides.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)950-956
Number of pages7
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2001


  • Biotin
  • CHO
  • Caco-2
  • Oral absorption
  • Tat peptide
  • Vitamin transporter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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