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Synthesis and Structure Determination of µ-Conotoxin PIIIA Isomers with Different Disulfide Connectivities

Published: October 2nd, 2018



1Pharmaceutical Biochemistry and Bioanalytics, Pharmaceutical Institute, University of Bonn
* These authors contributed equally

Cysteine-rich peptides fold into distinct three-dimensional structures depending on their disulfide connectivity. Targeted synthesis of individual disulfide isomers is required when buffer oxidation does not lead to the desired disulfide connectivity. The protocol deals with the selective synthesis of 3-disulfide-bonded peptides and their structural analysis using NMR and MS/MS studies.

Peptides with a high number of cysteines are usually influenced regarding the three-dimensional structure by their disulfide connectivity. It is thus highly important to avoid undesired disulfide bond formation during peptide synthesis, because it may result in a completely different peptide structure, and consequently altered bioactivity. However, the correct formation of multiple disulfide bonds in a peptide is difficult to obtain by using standard self-folding methods such as conventional buffer oxidation protocols, because several disulfide connectivities can be formed. This protocol represents an advanced strategy required for the targeted synthesis of multiple disulfide-bridged peptides which cannot be synthesized via buffer oxidation in high quality and quantity. The study demonstrates the application of a distinct protecting group strategy for the synthesis of all possible 3-disulfide-bonded peptide isomers of µ-conotoxin PIIIA in a targeted way. The peptides are prepared by Fmoc-based solid phase peptide synthesis using a protecting group strategy for defined disulfide bond formation. The respective pairs of cysteines are protected with trityl (Trt), acetamidomethyl (Acm), and tert-butyl (tBu) protecting groups to make sure that during every oxidation step only the required cysteines are deprotected and linked. In addition to the targeted synthesis, a combination of several analytical methods is used to clarify the correct folding and generation of the desired peptide structures. The comparison of the different 3-disulfide-bonded isomers indicates the importance of accurate determination and knowledge of the disulfide connectivity for the calculation of the three-dimensional structure and for interpretation of the biological activity of the peptide isomers. The analytical characterization includes the exact disulfide bond elucidation via tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) analysis which is performed with partially reduced and alkylated derivatives of the intact peptide isomer produced by an adapted protocol. Furthermore, the peptide structures are determined using 2D nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) experiments and the knowledge obtained from MS/MS analysis.

The use of bioactive peptides in pharmaceutical research and development is highly recognized, because they represent potent and highly selective compounds for specific biological targets1. For their bioactivity, however, the three-dimensional structure is of great importance in order to perform structure-activity relationship studies2,3,4. Apart from the primary amino acid sequence that influences the overall conformation, disulfide bonds significantly stabilize the structure of cysteine-rich peptides5. Multiple disulfide-bridg....

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Note: All amino acids used herein were in the L-configuration. The abbreviations of amino acids and amino acid derivatives were used according to the recommendations of the Nomenclature Committee of IUB and the IUPAC-IUB Joint Commission on Biochemical Nomenclature.

1. Solid-Phase Peptide Synthesis (SPPS)

NOTE: Carry out the synthesis with a solid-phase peptide synthesizer. Perform the synthesis of the linear peptide precursors of the general sequence ZRLCCGFOKSCRSRQC.......

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15 different disulfide-bridged isomers of the µ-conotoxin PIIIA are synthesized and characterized in detail (Figure 1). Disulfide bonds are identified by partial reduction and subsequent MS/MS analysis (Figure 2). NMR analysis of the different isomers is carried out (Figure 3) to reveal the individual peptide structures. Notably, a combination of RP HPLC, MS/MS fragmentation, and NMR analysis is.......

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The method described herein for the synthesis of cysteine-rich peptides such as µ-PIIIA represents a possibility to selectively produce disulfide-bonded isomers from the same amino acid sequence. Therefore, established methods such as Fmoc-based solid phase peptide synthesis18 and a defined protecting group strategy for the regioselective formation of disulfide bonds were used16. The solid-phase peptide synthesis can produce amino acid sequences on a polymer support (r.......

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We would like to thank A. Resemann, F. J. Mayer, and D. Suckau from Bruker Daltonics GmbH Bremen; D. Tietze, A. A. Tietze, V. Schmidts and C. Thiele from the Darmstadt University of Technology; O. Ohlenschläger from the FLI Jena, M. Engeser from the University of Bonn; K. Kramer, A. Harzen, and H. Nakagami from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne; Susanne Neupert from the Institute for Zoology, Cologne; and the Biomolecular Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Facilities of the University of Frankfurt for technical support, training modules, and access to instruments. Financial support by the University of Bonn to D.I. is gratefully acknowled....

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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Fmoc Rink amide resin Novabiochem 855001
Pyr(Boc) Bachem A-3850
Arg(Pbf) Iris Biotech FSC1010
Asn(Trt) Bachem B-1785
Asp(tBu) Iris Biotech FSP1020
Hyp(tBu) Iris Biotech FAA1627
Lys(Boc) Bachem B-1080
Ser(tBu) Iris Biotech FSC1190
Gln(Trt) Iris Biotech FSC1043
Glu(tBu) Iris Biotech FSP1045
Trp(Boc) Iris Biotech FSC1225
Tyr(tBu) Sigma Aldrich 47623
Thr(tBu) Iris Biotech FSP1210
His(Trt) Iris Biotech FDP1200
2-(1H-Benzotriazol-1-yl)-1,1,3,3-tetramethyluroniumhexafluorphosphat Sigma Aldrich 8510060 Flammable
DMF Fisher Scientific D119 Flammable, Toxic
DCM Fisher Scientific D37 Carcinogenic
Piperidine Alfa Aesar A12442 Flammable, Toxic, Corrosive
N-Methyl-Morpholin Sigma Aldrich 224286
Cys(Acm) Iris Biotech FAA1506
Cys(Trt) Bachem E-2495
Cys(tBu) Bachem B-1220
trifluoruacetic acid Sigma Aldrich 74564 Toxic, Corrosive
phenol Merck 1002060 Toxic
thioanisol Alfa Aesar A14846
ethanedithiol Fluka Analytical 2390
diethyl ether VWR 100,921 Flammable
tert-butanol Alfa Aesar L12338 Flammable
acetonitrile Fisher Scientific A998 Flammable
water Fisher Scientific W5
isopropanol VWR ACRO42383 Flammable
sodium hydroxide AppliChem A6579,1000 Corrosive
iodoacetamide Sigma Aldrich I6125
iodine Sigma Aldrich I0385
Hydrochloric acid Merck 110165 Corrosive
ascorbic acid Sigma Aldrich A4403
diphenylsulfoxide Sigma Aldrich P35405
anisol Sigma Aldrich 96109 Flammable
trichloromethylsilane Sigma Aldrich M85301 Flammable
sample dilution buffer Laborservice Onken
sodium dihydrogen phosphate Sigma Aldrich 106370
disodium hydrogen phosphate Sigma Aldrich 795410
(2-carboxyethyl)phosphine hydrochloride Sigma Aldrich C4706
citric acid Sigma Aldrich 251275
sodium citrate dihydrate Sigma Aldrich W302600
tris-acetate Carl Roth,  7125
Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid Sigma Aldrich E26282 
peptide calibration standard II Bruker Daltonics GmbH 8222570
Name of Equipment Company
solid-phase peptide synthesizer Intavis Bioanalytical Instruments AG EPS 221
lyophilizer  Martin Christ GmbH  Alpha 1-2 Ldplus
semipreparative HPLC Jasco system PV-987
Eurospher 100 C18 column (RP, 5 µm particle size, 100 Å pore size, 250 x 32 mm) Knauer 25QE181E2J purification of the linear peptide
Vydac 218TP1022 column (RP C18, 10 µm particle size, 300 Å pore size, 250 x 22 mm) Hichrom-VWR HICH218TP1022 purification of the oxidized peptide
analytical HPLC  Shimadzu system LC-20AD
Vydac 218TP54 column (C18 RP, 5 µm particle size, 300 Å pore size, 250 x 4.6 mm)  Hichrom-VWR HICH218TP54 analytical column
ground steel target (MTP 384) Bruker Daltonics GmbH NC0910436 MALDI preparation 
C18-concentration filter (ZipTip) Merck KGaA ZTC18S096 MALDI preparation 
MALDI mass spectrometer Bruker Daltonics GmbH ultraflex III TOF/TOF
amino acid analyzer Eppendorf-Biotronik GmbH LC 3000 system
NMR spectrometer Bruker Avance III Bruker Daltonics GmbH Bruker Avance III 600 MHz
computer program for molecular visualising YASARA Biosciences GmbH Yasara structures NMR structure calculation
computer program for MALDI data evaluation  Bruker Daltonics GmbH flexAnalysis, BioTools MS/MS fragmentation
analog vortex mixer VWR VM 3000
Microcentrifuge Eppendorf 5410
Centrifuge Hettich EBA 20
Rotational vacuum concentrator Christ 2-18 Cdplus
Analytical Balance A&D Instruments GR-202-EC

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