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Eur J Biochem. 2000 Aug;267(16):5085-92.

Highly potent inhibitors of human cathepsin L identified by screening combinatorial pentapeptide amide collections.

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Physiologisch-chemisches Institut and Naturwissenschaftliches und Medizinisches an der Universität Tübingen, Germany.


By screening a combinatorial pentapeptide amide collection in an inhibition assay, we systematically evaluated the potential of 19 proteinogenic amino acids and seven nonproteinogenic amino acids to serve as building blocks for inhibitors of human cathepsin L. Particularly efficient were aromatic, bulky, hydrophobic amino-acid residues, especially leucine, and positively charged residues, especially arginine. Building blocks for potential inhibitory peptides were combined by random selection from their activity pattern. This random approach for the design of inhibitors was introduced to compensate for the inaccuracy induced by shifted docking of combinatorial compound collections at the active center of cathepsin L. Thereby, we obtained structurally defined pentapeptide amides which inhibited human cathepsin L at nanomolar concentrations. Among the most potent novel inhibitors, one peptide, RKLLW-NH2, shares the amphiphilic character of the nonamer fragment VMNGLQNRK of the autoinhibitory, substrate-like, but reverse-binding prosegment of human cathepsin L which blocks the active center of the enzyme. Obviously, RKLLW-NH2 carries the functions that are important for enzyme-peptide interaction in a condensed form. This hypothesis was confirmed by structure-activity studies using truncated and modified pentapeptides.

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