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Genetically-Encoded Discovery of Proteolytically Stable Bicyclic Inhibitors of Morphogen NODAL
preprintsubmitted on 10.02.2021, 20:17 and posted on 11.02.2021, 12:51 by Jeffrey Y. K. Wong, Raja Mukherjee, Olena Bilyk, Jiayuan Miao, Vivian Triana Guzman, Mark Miskoizie, Yu-Shan Lin, Antoine Henninot, John J. Dwyer, Serhii Kharchenko, Anna Iampolska, Dmitriy Volochnyuk, Lynne Postovit, Ratmir Derda
In this manuscript, we developed a Two-fold Symmetric Linchpin (TSL) that converts readily available phage display peptides libraries made of 20 common amino acids to genetically-encoded libraries of bicyclic peptides displayed on phage. TSL combines an aldehyde-reactive group and two thiol-reactive groups; it bridges two side chains of cysteine [C] with an N-terminal aldehyde group derived from the N-terminal serine [S], yielding a novel bicyclic topology that lacks a free N-terminus. Phage display libraries of SX1CX2X3X4X5X6X7C sequences, where Xi is any amino acids but Cys, were converted to a library of bicyclic TSL-[S]X1[C]X2X3X4X5X6X7[C] peptides in 45 ± 15% yield. Using this library and protein morphogen NODAL as a target, we discovered bicyclic macrocycles that specifically antagonize NODAL-induced signaling in cancer cells. At a 10 µM concentration, two discovered bicyclic peptides completely suppressed NODAL-induced phosphorylation of SMAD2 in P19 embryonic carcinoma. The TSL-[S]Y[C]KRAHKN[C] bicycle inhibited NODAL-induced proliferation of NODAL-Tky-nu ovarian carcinoma cells with apparent IC50 1 µM. The same bicycle at 10 µM concentration did not affect the growth of the control Tky-nu cells. TSL-bicycles remained stable over the course of the 72 hour-long assays in a serum-rich cell-culture medium. We further observed general stability in mouse serum and in a mixture of proteases (PronaseTM) for 33 diverse bicyclic macrocycles of different ring sizes, amino acid sequences, and cross-linker geometries. TSL-constrained peptides expand the previously reported repertoire of phage display bicyclic architectures formed by cross-linking Cys side chains. We anticipate that it will aid the discovery of proteolytically stable bicyclic inhibitors for a variety of protein targets.