Chem Sci. 2023 Sep 1;14(35):9600-9607. doi: 10.1039/d3sc03758d. eCollection 2023 Sep 13.
This study presents the development of a β-hairpin (tryptophan zipper, Trpzip)-based molecular tweezer (MT) that can control the folding and binding of α-helical peptides. When an α-helix isolated from the p53 protein was conjugated with Trpzip in an optimized macrocyclic structure, the folded β-hairpin stabilized the helix conformation through the side chain-to-side chain stapling strategy, which notably enhanced target (hDM2) affinity of the peptide. On the other hand, the helicity and binding affinity were significantly reduced when the hairpin was unfolded by a redox stimulus. This stimulus-responsive property was translated into the effective capture and release of model multivalent biomaterials, hDM2-gold nanoparticle conjugates. Since numerous protein interactions are mediated by α-helical peptides, these results suggest that the β-hairpin-based MT holds great potential to be utilized in various biomedical applications, such as protein interaction inhibition and cancer biomarker (e.g., circulating tumor cells and exosomes) detection.