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Org Biomol Chem. 2011 Jun 7;9(11):4306-14. doi: 10.1039/c0ob00966k. Epub 2011 Apr 13.

Cytotoxic potency of small macrocyclic knot proteins: structure-activity and mechanistic studies of native and chemically modified cyclotides.

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Division of Pharmacognosy, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Uppsala University, BMC, Box 574, SE-751 23, Uppsala, Sweden.


The cyclotides are a family of circular and knotted proteins of natural origin with extreme enzymatic and thermal stability. They have a wide range of biological activities that make them promising tools for pharmaceutical and crop-protection applications. The cyclotides are divided into two subfamilies depending on the presence (Möbius) or absence (bracelet) of a cis-Pro peptide bond. In the current work we report a series of experiments to give further insight into the structure-activity relationship of cyclotides in general, and the differences between subfamilies and the role of their hydrophobic surface in particular. Selective chemical modifications of Glu, Arg, Lys and Trp residues was tested for cytotoxic activity: derivatives in which the Trp residue was modified showed low effect, demonstrating the existence of a connection between hydrophobicity and activity. However, over the full set of cyclotides examined, there was no strong correlation between the cytotoxic activity and their hydrophobicity. Instead, it seems more like that the distribution of charged and hydrophobic residues determines the ultimate degree of potency. Furthermore, we found that while the Glu residue is very important in maintaining the activity of the bracelet cyclotide cycloviolacin O2, it is much less important in the Möbius cyclotides. Despite these differences between cyclotide subfamilies, a systematic test of mixtures of cyclotides revealed that they act in an additive way.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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