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Keywords:

  • amino acids;
  • peptides;
  • peptidomimetics;
  • protein structures;
  • synthesis design

Abstract

Despite their enormous diversity in biological function and structure, peptides and proteins are endowed with properties that have induced and stimulated the development of peptidomimetics. Clearly, peptides can be considered as the “stem” of a phylogenetic molecular development tree from which branches of oligomeric peptidomimetics such as peptoids, peptidosulfonamides, urea peptidomimetics, as well as β-peptides have sprouted. It is still a challenge to efficiently synthesize these oligomeric species, and study their structural and biological properties. Combining peptides and peptidomimetics led to the emergence of peptide–peptidomimetic hybrids in which one or more (proteinogenic) amino acid residues have been replaced with these mimetic residues. In scan-like approaches, the influence of these replacements on biological activity can then be studied, to evaluate to what extent a peptide can be transformed into a peptidomimetic structure while maintaining, or even improving, its biological properties. A central issue, especially with the smaller peptides, is the lack of secondary structure. Important approaches to control secondary structure include the introduction of α,α-disubstituted amino acids, or (di)peptidomimetic structures such as the Freidinger lactam. Apart from intra-amino acid constraints, inter-amino acid constraints for formation of a diversity of cyclic peptides have shaped a thick branch. Apart from the classical disulfide bridges, the repertoire has been extended to include sulfide and triazole bridges as well as the single-, double- and even triple-bond replacements, accessible by the extremely versatile ring-closing alkene/alkyne metathesis approaches. The latter approach is now the method of choice for the secondary structure that presents the greatest challenge for structural stabilization: the α-helix.