Institute of Crystallography - CNR

Probing the helical stability in a VEGF-mimetic peptide

The analysis of the forces governing helix formation and stability in peptides and proteins has attracted considerable interest in order to shed light on folding mechanism. We analyzed the role of hydrophobic interaction, steric hindrance and chain length on i, i + 3 position in QK peptide, a VEGF mimetic helical peptide. We focused on position 10 of QK, occupied by a leucine, as previous studies highlighted the key role of the Leu7-Leu10 interaction in modulating the helix formation and inducing an unusual thermodynamic stability. Leu10 has been replaced by hydrophobic amino acids with different side-chain length, hydrophobicity and steric hindrance. Ten peptides were, hence, synthesized and analyzed combining circular dichroism, calorimetry and NMR spectroscopy. We found that helical content and thermal stability of peptide QK changed when Leu10 was replaced. Interestingly, we observed that the changes in the helical content and thermal stability were not always correlated and they depend on the type of interaction (strength and geometry) that could be established between Leu7 and the residue in position 10.

Bioorganic chemistry (Print)
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De Rosa L.; Diana D.; Di Stasi R.; Romanelli A.; Sciacca M.F.M.; Milardi D.; Isernia C.; Fattorusso R.; D'Andrea L.D.