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Curr Med Chem. 1999 Oct;6(10):905-25.

Beta-peptides: twisting and turning.

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  • 1Laboratorium für Organische Chemie der Eidgenössischen Technischen Hochschule Zürich, Universitätstr. 16, ETH Zentrum, Zürich, CH-8092, Switzerland. gademann@org.chem.ethz.ch


Oligomers of beta-amino acids (beta-peptides), which are readily available by standard meth ods either in solution or on solid support, adopt a large variety of different secondary structures in solution and in the solid state. beta-Peptides 4, 5 and 10 fold into a helix with 3 residues per turn and 14-membered H-bonded rings (314 helix) that is left-handed for 5 and 10 and right-handed for 2 (due to the reversal of the chirality of the building blocks), as was clearly demonstrated by two-dimensional NMR-spectroscopy. This helix thermally is very stable in methanol solution upon heating. As shown by NMR- and CD-spectroscopy, it is partially populated even at 100 C (Figure 3). Another helix was dis covered for mixed beta-peptide 8 in methanol solution: it is characterized by 12- and 10- membered turns (Figure 4, left) and its central 10-membered turn has been found in the solid state of a geminally disubtituted beta-peptide (Figure 4, right). This central 10-membered turn was used as a scaffold to attach beta-amino acid residues that prefer a linear (non-helical) conformation (beta-peptide 21): a hairpin (pleated sheet-turn-pleated sheet) structure was determined in solution by NMR-spectroscopy (Figure 5). In contrast to this antiparallel pleated-sheet, a parallel pleated sheet was found for a beta-tripeptide in the solid state. For the first time it was possible to observe reversible peptide folding in MD simulations by studying beta-peptides (Figure 6) and to determine folding pathways and intermediates. beta-Peptides are a new class of promising peptidomimetics. They are resistant against the degradation by proteolytic enzymes such as pepsin, elastase, carboxypeptidase A, pro nase or proteasom 20S. A variety of beta-amino acids (27-34) was shown to be non- mutagenic by Ames tests and beta-peptides 47 and 48 reveal large elimination half-lives of 3 h (for 47) and 10 h (for 48) in the serum of rodents (Figure 7). Conjugates of alpha- and beta- peptides are efficient ligands for the HLA*B27 MHC Class I protein, a five fold increase of binding (2.0 microM for 55) compared to a natural peptidic ligand 51 was observed. Furthermore, beta-peptides are able to mimic natural a-peptidic hormones such as somatostatin. The cyclo-beta-tetrapeptide 57 binds to the five human somatostatin receptors in the micromolar range. In addition, several other non-natural oligomers such as beta-peptide nucleic acids (built from 58 and 59), beta-peptoids (60), oligomers of anthranilic acids and beta-sulfonamido peptides are discussed.

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