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J Biol Chem. 2003 Sep 12;278(37):34874-81. Epub 2003 Jul 2.

Stereoselective interactions of peptide inhibitors with the beta-amyloid peptide.

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  • 1Neurochem Inc., Saint-Laurent, Quebec H4S 2A1, Canada.


Residues 16-20 of the beta-amyloid peptide (A beta) function as a self-recognition element during A beta assembly into fibers. Peptides containing this motif retain the ability to interact with A beta and, in some cases, potently inhibit its assembly. Replacing L- with D-amino acids could stabilize such peptides and permit their evaluation as therapeutic agents for Alzheimer's disease. Here we have assessed the effect that such a chiral reversal has on inhibitory potency. D-enantiomers of five peptides, KLVFFA, KKLVFFA, KFVFFA, KIVFFA, and KVVFFA, were unexpectedly more active as inhibitors in an in vitro fibrillogenesis assay. Circular dichroism showed that D-KLVFFA more effectively prevented A beta adopting the beta-sheet secondary structure correlated with fibrillogenesis. Electron microscopy showed that fiber formation was also more strongly inhibited by D-KLVFFA. Heterochiral inhibition was confirmed using D-A beta, on the principle that enantiomeric proteins exhibit reciprocal chiral biochemical interactions. With D-Abeta, L-KLVFFA was the more potent inhibitor, rather than d-KLVFFA. Most significantly, D-peptides were more potent at reducing the toxicity of both A beta1-40 and A beta 1-42 toward neuronal cells in culture. This unforeseen heterochiral stereoselectivity of A beta for D-peptide inhibitors should be considered during future design of peptide-based inhibitors of A beta neurotoxicity and fibrillogenesis.

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