The stability of cyclic peptides, coupled with their structural diversity and ability to host an extensive range of bioactivities, make them promising leads for the development of new drugs. PawS-Derived Peptide-23 (PDP-23) is a head-to-tail macrocyclic peptide with two disulfide bonds produced in plant seeds. Its unusual fold comprises two -hairpins connected by hinges that allow the structure to adapt to different environments. In water two PDP-23 molecules form a compact intertwined dimer that buries hydrophobic residues, whereas in membrane mimicking conditions it adopts an open monomeric form that expose them. Here we investigate PDP-23 as a novel scaffold for the grafting of bioactive epitopes and conjugation of small molecules. To explore the plasticity of PDP-23 we introduced the bioactive loop of sunflower trypsin inhbitor-1 (SFTI-1) or an integrin binding RGD motif into either of the -hairpins. Solution NMR spectroscopy revealed that although the variants were unable to dimerise, the structural features of both the graft and scaffold were retained. SFTI-1 hybrid variants showed trypsin inhibitory activity. PDP-23 has previously been used as a cell permeable drug scaffold targeting drug-resistant cancer cells by inhibiting the drug efflux pump P-glycoprotein and restoring their sensitivity to chemotherapeutic. Introducing the RGD motif into such PDP-23 conjugates significantly improve their potency, suggesting that the RGD sequence targets the peptide to the membrane of cancer cells and improve cell uptake. In conclusion, this study highlights PDP-23 as a stable and versatile scaffold for molecular grafting of bioactivities and targeted delivery of pharmaceutical payloads.
HPLC traces and MS data for the synthetic peptides. Cell toxicity data.