Promotion of the collagen triple helix in a hydrophobic environment†
In contrast to many other water-soluble peptide arrangements, the formation of a triple helix in collagen proceeds inside out: polar glycyl residues form the interior, whereas nonpolar prolyl side chains constitute the exterior. In our work, we decided to exploit this aspect of the peptide architecture in order to create hyperstable collagen mimicking peptides (CMPs). The key element of this study is the environment. Given that the peptide assembles in a nonpolar medium, the collapse of the polar peptide backbone into the triple helix should become more favorable. Following this idea, we prepared CMPs based on hydrophobic proline analogues. The synthesis was performed by a combination of liquid- and solid-phase approaches: first, hexapeptides were prepared in solution, and then these were launched into conventional Fmoc-based peptide synthesis on a solid support. The resulting peptides showed an excellent signal of the triple helix in the model nonpolar solvent (octanol) according to circular dichroism observations. In a study of a series of oligomers, we found that the minimal length of the peptides required for triple helical assembly is substantially lower compared to water-soluble CMPs. Our results suggest further explorations of the CMPs in hydrophobic media; in particular, we highlight the suggestion that collagen could be converted into a membrane protein.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Supramolecular chemistry in OBC