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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Nov 23;96(24):13638-43.

Production of cyclic peptides and proteins in vivo.

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Department of Chemistry, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802-6300, USA.


Combinatorial libraries of synthetic and natural products are an important source of molecular information for the interrogation of biological targets. Methods for the intracellular production of libraries of small, stable molecules would be a valuable addition to existing library technologies by combining the discovery potential inherent in small molecules with the large library sizes that can be realized by intracellular methods. We have explored the use of split inteins (internal proteins) for the intracellular catalysis of peptide backbone cyclization as a method for generating proteins and small peptides that are stabilized against cellular catabolism. The DnaE split intein from Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 was used to cyclize the Escherichia coli enzyme dihydrofolate reductase and to produce the cyclic, eight-amino acid tyrosinase inhibitor pseudostellarin F in bacteria. Cyclic dihydrofolate reductase displayed improved in vitro thermostability, and pseudostellarin F production was readily apparent in vivo through its inhibition of melanin production catalyzed by recombinant Streptomyces antibioticus tyrosinase. The ability to generate and screen for backbone cyclic products in vivo is an important milestone toward the goal of generating intracellular cyclic peptide and protein libraries.

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