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Design and Structure of Peptide and Peptidomimetic Antagonists of Protein- Protein Interaction

[ Vol. 6 , Issue. 2 ]


Laurel O. Sillerud and Richard S. Larson   Pages 151 - 169 ( 19 )


Peptides based on the amino acid sequences found at protein-protein interaction sites make excellent leads for antagonist development. A statistical picture of amino acids involved in protein-protein interactions indicates that proteins recognize and interact with one another through the restricted set of specialized interface amino acid residues, Pro, Ile, Tyr, Trp, Asp and Arg. These amino acids represent residues from each of the three classes of amino acids, hydrophobic, aromatic and charged, with one anionic and one cationic residue at neutral pH. The use of peptides as drug leads has been successfully used to search for antagonists of cell-surface receptors. Peptide, peptidomimetic, and non-peptide organic inhibitors of a class of cell surface receptors, the integrins, currently serve as therapeutic and diagnostic imaging agents. In this review, we discuss the structural features of proteinprotein interactions as well as the design of peptides, peptidomimetics, and small organic molecules for the inhibition of protein-protein interactions. Information gained from studying inhibitors of integrin functions is now being applied to the design and testing of inhibitors of other protein-protein interactions. Most drug development progress in the past several decades has been made using the enzyme binding-pocket model of drug targets. Small molecules are designed to fit into the substrate-binding pockets of proteins based on a lock-and-key, induced-fit, or conformational ensemble model of the protein binding site. Traditionally, enzymes have been used as therapeutic drug targets because it was easier to develop rapid, sensitive screening assays, and to find low molecular weight inhibitors that blocked the active site. However, for proteins which interact with other proteins, rather than with small substrate molecules, the lack of binding pockets means that this approach will not generally succeed. There exist many diseases in which the inhibition of protein-protein interactions would provide therapeutic benefit, but there are no general methods available to address such problems. The focus of the first part of this review is to discuss the features of protein-protein interactions which may serve as general guidelines for the development and design of inhibitors for protein-protein interactions. In the second part we focus on the design of peptides (lead compounds) and their conversion into peptidomimetics or small organic molecules for the inhibition of protein-protein interactions. We draw examples from the important and emerging area of integrin-based cell adhesion and show how the principles of protein-protein interactions are followed in the discovery, optimization and usage of specific protein interface peptides as drug leads.


drug development, crystallography, nmr, interface peptides, cell adhesion, integrins, extracellular matrix (ecm), leu-asp-val (ldv), vascular cell adhesion molecule (vcam-1)


UNM Cancer Research Facility, CRF223, Albuquerque, NM 87131, Mexico.

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