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NMR investigation of disulfide containing peptides and proteins

Peptides and proteins with disulfide bonds are abundant in all kingdoms and play essential role in many biological events. Because small disulfide-rich peptides (proteins) are usually difficult to crystallize, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is by far one of the most powerful techniques for the determination of their solution structure. Besides the “static” three-dimensional structure, NMR has unique opportunities to acquire additional information about molecular dynamics and folding at atomic resolution. Nowadays it is becoming increasingly evident, that “excited”, “disordered” or “fuzzy” protein states may exhibit biological function and disulfide proteins are also promising targets for such studies. In this short two-three years overview those disulfide peptides and proteins were cited from the literature that were studied by NMR. Though we may have missed some, their structural diversity and complexity as well as their wide repertoire of biological functions is impressive. We emphasised especially antimicrobial peptides and peptide based toxins in addition to some biologically important other structures. Besides the general NMR methods we reviewed some contemporary techniques suitable for disclosing the peculiar properties of disulfide bonds. Interesting dynamics and folding studies of disulfide proteins were also mentioned. It is important to disclose the essential structure, dynamics, function aspects of disulfide proteins since this aids the design of new compounds with improved activity and reduced toxicity. Undoubtedly, NMR has the potential to accelerate the development of new disulfide peptides/proteins with pharmacological activity.

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21 Nov 2013
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