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Electrophilic Helical Peptides That Bond Covalently, Irreversibly, and Selectively in a Protein–Protein Interaction Site

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journal contribution
posted on 15.11.2016 by Aline Dantas de Araujo, Junxian Lim, Andrew C. Good, Renato T. Skerlj, David P. Fairlie
Protein–protein interactions mediate most physiological and disease processes. Helix-constrained peptides potently mimic or inhibit these interactions by making multiple contacts over large surface areas. However, despite high affinities, they typically have short lifetimes bound to the protein. Here we insert both a helix-inducing constraint and an adjacent electrophile into the native peptide ligand BIM to target the oncogenic protein Bcl2A1. The modified BIM peptide bonds covalently and irreversibly to one cysteine within the helix-binding groove of Bcl2A1, but not to two other exposed cysteines on its surface, and shows no covalent bonding to other Bcl2 proteins. It also penetrates cell membranes and bonds covalently to Bcl2A1 inside cells. This innovative approach to increasing receptor residence time of helical peptides demonstrates the potential to selectively silence a PPI inside cells, with selectivity over other nucleophilic sites on proteins.