The p53 protein regulates cell proliferation by induction of growth arrest or apoptosis in response to DNA damage. A substantial proportion of cancer cells express wild-type p53, but it seems likely that in these cells p53 is inactivated. Among the known mechanisms by which cancer cells suppress functions of p53 is the regulation of p53 by the human double minute 2 oncoprotein (HDM2). The HDM2 protein binds to the transactivation domain of p53 and inhibits its ability to activate transcription. Inhibition of p53 by HDM2 has been observed in tumors where gene amplification and other alterations can result in elevated HDM2(one-third of soft tissue sarcomas). The disruption of the p53/HDM2 protein-protein interaction is therefore an attractive approach for cancer therapy because it provides the possibility to regulate the threshold of the p53 response with therapeutic agents. The crystal structure of the 109-residue amino-terminal domain of HDM2 (murine double minute 2 oncoprotein) bound to a 15-residue transactivation domain peptide of p53 revealed that HDM2 has a deep hydrophobic cleft on which the p53 peptide binds as an amphipathic a-helix. The interface relies on the steric complementarity between the HDM2 cleft and the hydrophobic face of the p53 a-helix and, in particular, on a triad of p53 amino acids: Phe19, Trp23, and Leu26, which insert deep into the HDM2 cleft.Based on a 12-mer fragment of this p53 peptide (Gln16-Glu-Thr-Phe-Ser-Asp21-Leu-Trp-Lys-Leu-Leu-Pro27) we designed cyclic peptides, with side chains of residues 21 and 24 (i, i+3) or 21 and 25 (i, i+4) linked together to stabilize the a helical conformation. We used amide bond or thioether bond formation for peptide cyclization. By modification of amino acid residues and linker type we obtained several cyclic analogs. The conformational properties of these peptides were investigated using CD spectroscopy. All cyclic peptides are more potent inhibitors of the p53/Hdm2 protein-protein interaction. The highest tendency to form a helical conformation is correlated with highest inhibitory potency. We are going to improve the cyclic peptides inhibitory potency by optimizing the linker length and using the unnatural amino acids.In collaboration with Prof. S. Wang from University of Michigan we also designed and synthesized fluorescent peptides with high content of unnatural amino acids (e.g. 5-Fam-aAla-aAla-Phe-Met-Aib-pTyr-(6-Cl-Trp)-Glu-Ac3c-Leu-Asn-Lys-NH2) with very high inhibitory potency against the p53/hdm2 protein-protein interaction (for the most potent peptide IC50 = 0.2 nM). These peptides were successfully used in development of the assay for testing an activity of small molecule inhibitors. HIV-1 integrase is essential for the HIV replication cycle, furthermore it is a key enzyme for the ability of the HIV virus to infect non-dividing cells. In addition to reverse transcriptase and protease, integrase has also been the focus of attention for HIV antiviral chemotherapy. Integrase is an attractive target because it has no counterpart in mammalian cells; therefore, selective integrase inhibitors should not produce any side effects. Many integrase inhibitors have been reported to date. However, progress with the design of effective inhibitors of HIV integrase is slower than in the case of reverse transcriptase or protease inhibitors and no clinically useful drugs have yet been approved. Our project is focused on specific peptide sequences with HIV-1 integrase inhibitory activity. For one of these sequences (HCKFWW) we designed and synthesized several analogs (including cyclic and dimeric peptides) for structure-activity studies. We found that dimeric analogs of this peptide (dimerized through the Cys residue side-chains or C-ends of the monomers) are distinctly more potent than the monomer.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Division of Basic Sciences - NCI (NCI)
Intramural Research (Z01)
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Basic Sciences
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Sun, Haiying; Nikolovska-Coleska, Zaneta; Chen, Jianyong et al. (2005) Structure-based design, synthesis and biochemical testing of novel and potent Smac peptido-mimetics. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 15:793-7
Koehler, Niklas K U; Yang, Chao-Yie; Varady, Judith et al. (2004) Structure-based discovery of nonpeptidic small organic compounds to block the T cell response to myelin basic protein. J Med Chem 47:4989-97
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Nikolovska-Coleska, Zaneta; Wang, Renxiao; Fang, Xueliang et al. (2004) Development and optimization of a binding assay for the XIAP BIR3 domain using fluorescence polarization. Anal Biochem 332:261-73
Krajewski, Krzysztof; Marchand, Christophe; Long, Ya-Qiu et al. (2004) Synthesis and HIV-1 integrase inhibitory activity of dimeric and tetrameric analogs of indolicidin. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 14:5595-8
Sun, Haiying; Nikolovska-Coleska, Zaneta; Yang, Chao-Yie et al. (2004) Structure-based design, synthesis, and evaluation of conformationally constrained mimetics of the second mitochondria-derived activator of caspase that target the X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein/caspase-9 interaction site. J Med Chem 47:4147-50
Nikolovska-Coleska, Zaneta; Xu, Liang; Hu, Zengjian et al. (2004) Discovery of embelin as a cell-permeable, small-molecular weight inhibitor of XIAP through structure-based computational screening of a traditional herbal medicine three-dimensional structure database. J Med Chem 47:2430-40
Song, Yan-Li; Roller, Peter P; Long, Ya-Qiu (2004) Development of l-3-aminotyrosine suitably protected for the synthesis of a novel nonphosphorylated hexapeptide with low-nanomolar Grb2-SH2 domain-binding affinity. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 14:3205-8
Li, Peng; Peach, Megan L; Zhang, Manchao et al. (2003) Structure-based design of thioether-bridged cyclic phosphopeptides binding to Grb2-SH2 domain. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 13:895-9
Krajewski, Krzysztof; Long, Ya-Qiu; Marchand, Christophe et al. (2003) Design and synthesis of dimeric HIV-1 integrase inhibitory peptides. Bioorg Med Chem Lett 13:3203-5

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