Molecular design of stapled pentapeptides as building blocks of self-assembled coiled coil–like fibers

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Science Advances  22 Jan 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 4, eabd0492
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd0492


Peptide self-assembly inspired by natural superhelical coiled coils has been actively pursued but remains challenging due to limited helicity of short peptides. Side chain stapling can strengthen short helices but is unexplored in design of self-assembled helical nanofibers as it is unknown how staples could be adapted to coiled coil architecture. Here, we demonstrate the feasibility of this design for pentapeptides using a computational method capable of predicting helicity and fiber-forming tendency of stapled peptides containing noncoded amino acids. Experiments showed that the best candidates, which carried an aromatically substituted staple and phenylalanine analogs, displayed exceptional helicity and assembled into nanofibers via specific head-to-tail hydrogen bonding and packing between staple and noncoded side chains. The fibers exhibited sheet-of-helix structures resembling the recently found collapsed coiled coils whose formation was sensitive to side chain flexibility. This study expands the chemical space of coiled coil assemblies and provides guidance for their design.

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