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PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e43985. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043985. Epub 2012 Aug 31.

Stapled BH3 peptides against MCL-1: mechanism and design using atomistic simulations.

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Bioinformatics Institute, ASTAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research), Biopolis, Singapore, Singapore.


Atomistic simulations of a set of stapled alpha helical peptides derived from the BH3 helix of MCL-1 (Stewart et al. (2010) Nat Chem Biol 6: 595-601) complexed to a fragment (residues 172-320) of MCL-1 revealed that the highest affinity is achieved when the staples engage the surface of MCL-1 as has also been demonstrated for p53-MDM2 (Joseph et al. (2010) Cell Cycle 9: 4560-4568; Baek et al. (2012) J Am Chem Soc 134: 103-106). Affinity is also modulated by the ability of the staples to pre-organize the peptides as helices. Molecular dynamics simulations of these stapled BH3 peptides were carried out followed by determination of the energies of interactions using MM/GBSA methods. These show that the location of the staple is a key determinant of a good binding stapled peptide from a bad binder. The good binder derives binding affinity from interactions between the hydrophobic staple and a hydrophobic patch on MCL-1. The position of the staple was varied, guiding the design of new stapled peptides with higher affinities.

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