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Current Opinion in Chemical Biology

Anna E Czapar, Nicole F Steinmetz
There are a wide variety of synthetic and naturally occurring nanomaterials under development for nanoscale cargo-delivery applications. Viruses play a special role in these developments, because they can be regarded as naturally occurring nanomaterials evolved to package and deliver cargos. While any nanomaterial has its advantage and disadvantages, viral nanoparticles (VNPs), in particular the ones derived from plant viruses and bacteriophages, are attractive options for cargo-delivery as they are biocompatible, biodegradable, and non-infectious to mammals...
April 17, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
K George Chandy, Raymond S Norton
The voltage-gated Kv1.3 channel in T lymphocytes is a validated therapeutic target for diverse autoimmune diseases. Here we review the discovery of Kv1.3, its physiological role in T cells, and why it is an attractive target for modulating autoimmune responses. We focus on peptide inhibitors because the first Kv1.3-selective inhibitor in human trials is a peptide derived from a marine organism. Two broad classes of peptides block Kv1.3, the first from scorpions and the second from sea anemones. We describe their structures, their binding site in the external vestibule of Kv1...
April 13, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Biswajit Mishra, Scott Reiling, D Zarena, Guangshun Wang
This review deals with the design and application strategies of new antibiotics based on naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). The initial candidate can be designed based on three-dimensional structure or selected from a library of peptides from natural or laboratory sources followed by optimization via structure-activity relationship studies. There are also advanced application strategies such as induction of AMP expression from host cells by various factors (e.g., metals, amino acids, vitamin D and sunlight), the use of engineered probiotic bacteria to deliver peptides, the design of prodrug and peptide conjugates to improve specific targeting...
April 8, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Philip Mair, Fabrice Gielen, Florian Hollfelder
Screening of enzyme mutants in monodisperse picoliter compartments, generated at kilohertz speed in microfluidic devices, is coming of age. After a decade of proof-of-principle experiments, workflows have emerged that combine existing microfluidic modules to assay reaction progress quantitatively and yield improved enzymes. Recent examples of the screening of libraries of randomised proteins and from metagenomic sources suggest that this approach is not only faster and cheaper, but solves problems beyond the feasibility scope of current methodologies...
April 5, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Ziqing Qian, Patrick G Dougherty, Dehua Pei
Intracellular protein-protein interactions (PPIs) are challenging targets for conventional drug modalities, because small molecules generally do not bind to their large, flat binding sites with high affinity, whereas monoclonal antibodies cannot cross the cell membrane to reach the targets. Cyclic peptides in the 700-2000 molecular-weight range have the sufficient size and a balanced conformational flexibility/rigidity for binding to flat PPI interfaces with antibody-like affinity and specificity. Several powerful cyclic peptide library technologies were developed over the past decade to rapidly discover potent, specific cyclic peptide ligands against proteins of interest including those involved in PPIs...
April 4, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Chawita Netirojjanakul, Les P Miranda
The number of new toxin peptide discoveries has been rapidly growing in the past few decades. Because of progress in proteomics, sequencing technologies, and high throughput bioassays, the search for new toxin peptides from venom collections and potency optimization has become manageable. However, to date, only six toxin peptide-derived therapeutics have been approved by the USFDA, with only one, ziconotide, for a pain indication. The challenge of venom-derived peptide therapeutic development remains in improving selectivity to the target and more importantly, in delivery of these peptides to the sites of action in the central and peripheral nervous system...
April 1, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Jun Woo Kim, Jennifer R Cochran
The biological importance and druggable properties of receptors and their cognate ligands have designated them as especially useful clinical targets. This significance continues to expand as new molecular insights underlying disease pathophysiology are uncovered. While both ligands and receptors have been exploited as drug targets, their differing biochemical properties require nuanced considerations for drug development, including where in the body they are located and how they are regulated on a cellular and molecular level...
March 31, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Christina Ferousi, Simon Lindhoud, Frauke Baymann, Boran Kartal, Mike Sm Jetten, Joachim Reimann
The most abundant transition metal in biological systems is iron. It is incorporated into protein cofactors and serves either catalytic, redox or regulatory purposes. Anaerobic ammonium oxidizing (anammox) bacteria rely heavily on iron-containing proteins - especially cytochromes - for their energy conservation, which occurs within a unique organelle, the anammoxosome. Both their anaerobic lifestyle and the presence of an additional cellular compartment challenge our understanding of iron processing. Here, we combine existing concepts of iron uptake, utilization and metabolism, and cellular fate with genomic and still limited biochemical and physiological data on anammox bacteria to propose pathways these bacteria may employ...
March 29, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Michael J Fink, Per-Olof Syrén
Herein we highlight recent findings on the importance of water networks in proteins, and their redesign and reconfiguration as a new engineering strategy to generate enzymes with modulated binding affinity and improved catalytic versatility. Traditionally, enzyme engineering and drug design have focused on tailoring direct and favorable interactions between protein surfaces and ligands/transition states to achieve stronger binding, or an accelerated manufacturing of medicines, biofuels, fine chemicals and materials...
March 18, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Richard Obexer, Louise J Walport, Hiroaki Suga
From their early roots in natural products, peptides now represent an expanding class of novel drugs. Their modular structures make them ideal candidates for pooled library screening approaches. Key technologies for library generation and screening, such as SICLOPPS, phage display and mRNA display, give unparalleled access to tight binding peptides. Through combination with genetic code reprogramming and chemical modifications, access to more natural product-like libraries, spanning non-canonical peptide space, is readily achievable...
March 17, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Justin M Bradley, Geoffrey R Moore, Nick E Le Brun
The essential metal iron presents two major problems for life: it is potentially highly toxic due to its redox activity, and its extremely low solubility in aqueous solution in the presence of O2 can make it hard to acquire and store safely. Ferritins are part of nature's answer to these problems, as they store iron in a safe but accessible form in all types of cells. How they achieve this has been the subject of intense research for several decades. Here, we highlight recent progress in elucidating the routes by which Fe(2+) ions access the catalytic ferroxidase centers, and the mechanisms by which Fe(2+) is oxidized...
March 14, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Ruma Banerjee
The view of enzymes as punctilious catalysts has been shifting as examples of their promiscuous behavior increase. However, unlike a number of cases where the physiological relevance of breached substrate specificity is questionable, the very synthesis of H2S relies on substrate and reaction promiscuity, which presents the enzymes with a multitude of substrate and reaction choices. The transsulfuration pathway, a major source of H2S, is inherently substrate-ambiguous. A heme-regulated switch embedded in the first enzyme in the pathway can help avert the stochastic production of cysteine versus H2S and control switching between metabolic tracks to meet cellular needs...
March 7, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Anatol Luther, Kerstin Moehle, Eric Chevalier, Glenn Dale, Daniel Obrecht
Fully synthetic medium-sized macrocyclic peptides mimicking the key β-hairpin and α-helical protein epitopes relevant in many protein-protein interactions have emerged as a novel class of drugs with the potential to fill an important gap between small molecules and proteins. Conformationally stabilized macrocyclic scaffolds represent ideal templates for medicinal chemists to incorporate bioactive peptide and protein pharmacophores in order to generate novel drugs to treat diseases with high unmet medical need...
March 5, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Kenton J Hetrick, Wilfred A van der Donk
In the past 15 years, the cost of sequencing a genome has plummeted. Consequently, the number of sequenced bacterial genomes has exponentially increased, and methods for natural product discovery have evolved rapidly to take advantage of the wealth of genomic data. This review highlights applications of genome mining software to compare and organize large-scale data sets and methods for identifying unique biosynthetic pathways amongst the thousands of ribosomally synthesized and post-translationally modified peptide (RiPP) gene clusters...
March 2, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Matthew R Bennett, Sarah A Shepherd, Victoria A Cronin, Jason Micklefield
S-adenosyl-L-methionine-dependent methyltransferses are ubiquitous in nature, methylating a vast range of small molecule metabolites, as well as biopolymers. This review covers the recent advances in the development of methyltransferase enzymes for synthetic applications, focusing on the methyltransferase catalyzed transformations with S-adenosyl methionine analogs, as well as non-native substrates. We discuss how metabolic engineering approaches have been used to enhance S-adenosyl methionine production in vivo...
March 2, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Ali Tavassoli
Cyclic peptide libraries have demonstrated significant potential when employed against challenging targets such as protein-protein interactions. While a variety of methods for library generation exist, genetically encoded libraries hold several advantages over their chemically synthesized counterparts; they are more readily accessible and allow straightforward hit deconvolution. One method for the intracellular generation of such libraries is split-intein circular ligation of peptides and proteins (SICLOPPS)...
February 28, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
David J Craik, Junqiao Du
Cyclotides are ultra-stable peptides derived from plants. They are around 30 amino acids in size and are characterized by their head-to-tail cyclic backbone and cystine knot. Their exceptional stability and tolerance to sequence substitutions has led to their use as frameworks in drug design. This article describes recent developments in this field, particularly developments over the last two years relating to the grafting of bioactive peptide sequences into the cyclic cystine knot framework of cyclotides to stabilize the sequences...
February 26, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Alessandro Zorzi, Kaycie Deyle, Christian Heinis
Cyclic peptides combine several favorable properties such as good binding affinity, target selectivity and low toxicity that make them an attractive modality for the development of therapeutics. Over 40 cyclic peptide drugs are currently in clinical use and around one new cyclic peptide drug enters the market every year on average. The vast majority of clinically approved cyclic peptides are derived from natural products, such as antimicrobials or human peptide hormones. New powerful techniques based on rational design and in vitro evolution have enabled the de novo development of cyclic peptide ligands to targets for which nature does not offer solutions...
February 26, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Maximilian Ccjc Ebert, Joelle N Pelletier
This review presents computational methods that experimentalists can readily use to create smart libraries for enzyme engineering and to obtain insights into protein-substrate complexes. Computational tools have the reputation of being hard to use and inaccurate compared to experimental methods in enzyme engineering, yet they are essential to probe datasets of ever-increasing size and complexity. In recent years, bioinformatics groups have made a huge leap forward in providing user-friendly interfaces and accurate algorithms for experimentalists...
February 21, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
Bei Zhang, Balamurugan Shanmugaraj, Henry Daniell
After approval of the first plant-made biopharmaceutical by FDA for human use, many protein drugs are now in clinical development. Within the last decade, significant advances have been made in expression of heterologous complex/large proteins in chloroplasts of edible plants using codon optimized human or viral genes. Furthermore, advances in quantification enable determination of in-planta drug dosage. Oral delivery of plastid-made biopharmaceuticals (PMB) is affordable because it eliminates prohibitively expensive fermentation, purification processes addressing major challenges of short shelf-life after cold storage...
February 21, 2017: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology
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