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J Org Chem. 2002 Nov 29;67(24):8389-94.

Dehydroalanine-based inhibition of a peptide epimerase from spider venom.

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  • 1Contribution from the Department of Chemistry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z1, Canada.


Ribosomally produced peptides that contain D-amino acids have been isolated from a number of vertebrate and invertebrate sources. In each case, the D-amino acids are introduced by a posttranslational modification of a parent peptide containing only amino acids of the L-configuration. The only known enzyme to catalyze such a reaction is the peptide epimerase (also known as peptide isomerase) from the venom of the funnel web spider, Agelenopsis aperta. This enzyme interconverts two 48-amino-acid-long peptide toxins that differ only by the stereochemistry at a single serine residue. In this paper we report the synthesis and testing of two pentapeptide analogues that contain modified amino acids at the site normally occupied by the substrate serine residue. When the L-chloroalanine-containing peptide 3 was incubated with the epimerase it was converted into the dehydroalanine-containing peptide 4 via an elimination of HCl. The dehydroalanine peptide 4 was independently synthesized and found to act as a potent inhibitor of the epimerase (IC50 = 0.5 microM). These results support a direct deprotonation/reprotonation mechanism in which a carbanionic intermediate is formed. The observed inhibition by 4 can be attributed to the sp(2)-hybridization of the alpha-carbon in the dehydroalanine unit that mimics the planar geometry of the anionic intermediate.

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