Anionically-functionalized glycogen encapsulates melittin by multivalent interactions



We developed acid-functionalized glycogen conjugates as supramolecular carriers for efficient encapsulation and inhibition of a model cationic peptide melittin - the main component of honeybee venom. For this purpose, we synthesized and characterized a set of glycogens, functionalized to various degrees by several different acid groups. These conjugates encapsulate melittin up to a certain threshold amount, beyond which they precipitate. Computer simulations showed that sufficiently functionalized conjugates electrostatically attract melittin, resulting in its efficient encapsulation in a broad pH range around the physiological pH. Hemolytic assays confirmed in vitro that the effective inhibition of melittin’s hemolytic activity occurs for highly functionalized samples, whereas no inhibition is observed when using low-functionalized conjugates. It can be concluded that functional glycogens are promising carriers for cationic molecular cargos or antidotes against animal venoms under conditions, in which suitable properties such as biodegradability and biocompatibility are crucial.