• stapled peptides;
  • NMR;
  • HIV-capsid


Hydrocarbon stapling of peptides is a powerful technique to transform linear peptides into cell-permeable helical structures that can bind to specific biological targets. In this study, we have used high resolution solution NMR techniques complemented by dynamic light scattering to characterize extensively a family of hydrocarbon stapled peptides with known inhibitory activity against HIV-1 capsid assembly to evaluate the various factors that modulate activity. The helical peptides share a common binding motif but differ in charge, the length, and position of the staple. An important outcome of the study was to show the peptides, share a propensity to self-associate into organized polymeric structures mediated predominantly by hydrophobic interactions between the olefinic chain and the aromatic side-chains from the peptide. We have also investigated in detail the structural significance of the length and position of the staple, and of olefinic bond isomerization in stabilizing the helical conformation of the peptides as potential factors driving polymerization. This study presents the numerous challenges of designing biologically active stapled peptides and the conclusions have broad implications for optimizing a promising new class of compounds in drug discovery. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Biopolymers 97: 253–264, 2012.