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A New Amino Acid for Improving Permeability and Solubility in Macrocyclic Peptides through Side Chain-to-Backbone Hydrogen Bonding.

  • Author(s): Taechalertpaisarn, Jaru;
  • Ono, Satoshi;
  • Okada, Okimasa;
  • Johnstone, Timothy C;
  • Lokey, R Scott
  • et al.

Despite the notoriously poor membrane permeability of peptides, many cyclic peptide natural products show high passive membrane permeability and potently inhibit a variety of "undruggable" intracellular targets. A major impediment to the design of cyclic peptides with good permeability is the high desolvation energy associated with the peptide backbone amide NH groups. While several strategies have been proposed to mitigate this deleterious effect, only few studies have used polar side chains to sequester backbone NH groups. We investigated the ability of N,N-pyrrolidinylglutamine (Pye), whose side chain contains a powerful hydrogen-bond-accepting C═O amide group but no hydrogen-bond donors, to sequester exposed backbone NH groups in a series of cyclic hexapeptide diastereomers. Analyses revealed that specific Leu-to-Pye substitutions conferred dramatic improvements in aqueous solubility and permeability in a scaffold- and position-dependent manner. Therefore, this approach offers a complementary tool for improving membrane permeability and solubility in cyclic peptides.

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