The interactions between the cell membrane and biomolecules remain poorly understood. For example, arginine-rich cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs), including octaarginines (R8), are internalized by interactions with cell membranes. However, during the internalization process, the exact membrane dynamics introduced by these CPPs are still unknown. Here, we visualize arginine-rich CPPs and cell-membrane interaction-induced morphological changes using a system that combines scanning ion-conductance microscopy and spinning-disk confocal microscopy, using fluorescently labeled R8. This system allows time-dependent, nanoscale visualization of structural dynamics in live-cell membranes. Various types of membrane remodeling caused by arginine-rich CPPs are thus observed. The induction of membrane ruffling and the cup closure are observed as a process of endocytic uptake of the peptide. Alternatively suggested is the concave structural formation accompanied by direct peptide translocation through cell membranes. Studies using R8 without fluorescent labeling also demonstrate a non-negligible effect of the fluorescent moiety on membrane structural alteration.
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