• EGFP;
  • protein transduction efficiency;
  • PTD;
  • TAT

To understand the protein transduction domain (PTD)-mediated protein transduction behavior and to explore its potential in delivering biopharmaceutic drugs, we prepared four TAT–EGFP conjugates: TAT(+)–EGFP, TAT(−)–EGFP, EGFP–TAT(+) and EGFP–TAT(−), where TAT(+) and TAT(−) represent the original and the reversed TAT sequence, respectively. These four TAT–EGFP conjugates were incubated with HeLa and PC12 cells for in vitro study as well as injected intraperitoneally to mice for in vivo study. Flow cytometric results showed that four TAT–EGFP conjugates were able to traverse HeLa and PC12 cells with almost equal transduction efficiency. The in vivo study showed that the TAT–EGFP conjugates could be delivered into different organs of mice with different transduction capabilities. Bioinformatic analyses and CD spectroscopic data revealed that the TAT peptide has no defined secondary structure, and conjugating the TAT peptide to the EGFP cargo protein would not alter the native structure and the function of the EGFP protein. These results conclude that the sequence orientation, the spatial structure, and the relative location of the TAT peptide have much less effect on the TAT-mediated protein transduction. Thus, the TAT-fused conjugates could be constructed in more convenient and flexible formats for a wide range of biopharmaceutical applications.