Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol.130, No.46, 15311-15317, 2008
Artificial Chemokines: Combining Chemistry and Molecular Biology for the Elucidation of Interleukin-8 Functionality
How can we understand the contribution of individual parts or segments to complex structures? A typical strategy to answer this question is simulation of a segmental replacement followed by realization and investigation of the resulting effect in structure-activity studies. For proteins, this problem is commonly addressed by site-directed mutagenesis. A more general approach represents the exchange of whole secondary structure elements by rationally designed segments. For a demonstration of this possibility we identified the alpha-helix at the C-terminus of human interleukin-8 (hIL-8). Since this chemokine possesses four conserved cysteine residues, it can easily be altered by ligation strategies. A set of different segments, which are able to form amphiphilic helices, was synthesized to mimic the C-terminal alpha-helix. Beside sequences of alpha-amino acids, oligomers of non-natural beta(3)-amino acids with the side chains of canonical amino acids were introduced. Such beta-peptides form helices, which differ from the alpha-helix in handedness and dipole orientation. Variants of the semisynthetic hIL-8 proteins demonstrated clearly that the exact side chain orientation is of more importance than helix handedness and dipole orientation. The activity of a chimeric protein with a beta-peptide helix that mimics the side chain orientation of the native alpha-helix most perfectly is comparable to that of the native hIL-8. Concepts like this could be a first step toward the synthesis of proteins consisting of large artificial secondary structure elements.