Engineering delivery systems for proteins and peptides into mammalian cells is an ongoing challenge for cell biological studies as well as for therapeutic approaches. Photorhabdus luminescens toxin complex (PTC) is a heterotrimeric protein complex able to deliver diverse protein toxins into mammalian cells. We engineered the syringe like nano-machine for delivery of protein toxins from different species. Additionally, we loaded the highly active copepod luciferase Metridia longa M-Luc7 for accurate quantification of injected molecules. We suggest that besides the size also the charge of the cargo defines the efficiency of packing and transport into mammalian cells. Our data show that the Photorhabdus luminescens toxin complex constitutes a powerful system to inject recombinant proteins, peptides and potentially other molecules like aptamers into mammalian cells. In contrast to other protein transporters based on pore formation, the cargo is protected from degradation. The system opens new perspectives for cell research and pharmacology.
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