Peptide-based inhibitors of protein–protein interactions: biophysical, structural and cellular consequences of introducing a constraint
Protein–protein interactions (PPIs) are implicated in the majority of cellular processes by enabling and regulating the function of individual proteins. Thus, PPIs represent high-value, but challenging targets for therapeutic intervention. The development of constrained peptides represents an emerging strategy to generate peptide-based PPI inhibitors, typically mediated by α-helices. The approach can confer significant benefits including enhanced affinity, stability and cellular penetration and is ingrained in the premise that pre-organization simultaneously pays the entropic cost of binding, prevents a peptide from adopting a protease compliant β-strand conformation and shields the hydrophilic amides from the hydrophobic membrane. This conceptual blueprint for the empirical design of peptide-based PPI inhibitors is an exciting and potentially lucrative way to effect successful PPI inhibitor drug-discovery. However, a plethora of more subtle effects may arise from the introduction of a constraint that include changes to binding dynamics, the mode of recognition and molecular properties. In this review, we summarise the influence of inserting constraints on biophysical, conformational, structural and cellular behaviour across a range of constraining chemistries and targets, to highlight the tremendous success that has been achieved with constrained peptides alongside emerging design opportunities and challenges.
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