Category: M. Amblard

How are 1,2,3-triazoles accommodated in helical secondary structures?

Org Biomol Chem. 2018 May 15. doi: 10.1039/c8ob00686e

Ben Haj Salah K, Das S , Ruiz N , Andreu V , Martinez J , Wenger E , Amblard M , Didierjean C , Legrand B , Inguimbert N


1,4-Disubstituted-1,2,3-triazole (Tz) is widely used in peptides as a trans-amide bond mimic, despite having hazardous effects on the native peptide activity. The impact of amide bond substitution by Tz on peptide secondary structures is scarcely documented. We performed a Tz scan, by systematically replacing peptide bonds following the Aib residues with Tz on two model peptaibols: alamethicin F50/5 and bergofungin D, which adopt stable α- and 310 helices, respectively. We observed that the Tz insertion, whatever its position in the peptide sequences, abolished their antimicrobial activity. The structural consequences of this insertion were further investigated using CD, NMR and X-ray diffraction. Importantly, five crystal structures that were incorporated with Tz were solved, showing various degrees of alteration of the helical structures, from minor structural perturbation of the helix to partial disorder. Together, these results showed that Tz insertions impair helical secondary structures.

12/10-Helix in Mixed β-Peptides Alternating Bicyclic and Acyclic β-Amino Acids: Probing the Relationship between Bicyclic Side Chain and Helix Stability

Chemistry. 2018 Dec 12. doi: 10.1002/chem.201804404. Epub 2018 Nov 15

Simon M, Milbeo P, Liu H, André C, Wenger E, Martinez J, Amblard M, Aubert E, Legrand B, Calmès M.


12/10-Helices constitute suitable templates that can be used to design original structures. Nevertheless, they often suffer from a weak stability in polar solvents because they exhibit a mixed hydrogen-bond network resulting in a small macrodipole. In this work, stable and functionalizable 12/10-helices were developed by alternating a highly constrained β2, 3, 3 -trisubstituted bicyclic amino acid (S)-1-aminobicyclo[2.2.2]octane-2-carboxylic acid ((S)-ABOC) and an acyclic substituted β-homologated proteinogenic amino acid (l-β3 -hAA). Based on NMR spectroscopic analysis, it was shown that such mixed β-peptides display well-defined right-handed 12/10-helices in polar, apolar, and chaotropic solvents; that are, CD3 OH, CDCl3 , and [D6 ]DMSO, respectively. The stability of the hydrogen bonds forming the C10 and C12 pseudocycles as well as the benefit provided by the use of the constrained bicyclic ABOC versus typical acyclic β-amino acids sequences when designing 12/10-helix were investigated using NH/ND NMR exchange experiments and DFT calculations in various solvents. These studies showed that the β3 -hAA/(S)-ABOC helix displayed a more stable hydrogen-bond network through specific stabilization of the C10 pseudocycles involving the bridgehead NH of the ABOC bicyclic scaffold.

Site-specific grafting on titanium surfaces with hybrid temporin antibacterial peptides

J. Mater. Chem. B, 2018,6, 1782-1790. doi 10.1039/C8TB00051D


Relying on a membrane-disturbing mechanism of action and not on any intracellular target, antimicrobial peptides (AMP) are attractive compounds to be grafted on the surface of implantable materials such as silicone catheters or titanium surgical implants. AMP sequences often display numerous reactive functions (e.g. amine, carboxylic acid) on their side chains and straightforward conjugation chemistries could lead to uncontrolled covalent grafting, random orientation, and non-homogenous density. To achieve an easy and site specific covalent attachment of unprotected peptides on titanium surfaces, we designed hybrid silylated biomolecules based on the temporin-SHa amphipathic helical antimicrobial sequence. With the grafting reaction being chemoselective, we designed five analogues displaying the silane anchoring function at the N-ter, C-ter or at different positions inside the sequence to get an accurate control of the orientation. Grafting density calculations were performed by XPS and the influence of the orientation of the peptide on the surface was clearly demonstrated by the measure of antimicrobial activity. Temporin amphipathic helices are described to permeabilize the bacterial membrane by interacting in a parallel orientation with it. Our results move in the direction of this mechanism as the selective grafting of hybrid temporin 2 through a lysine placed at the center of the peptide sequence, resulted in better biofilm growth inhibition of E. coli and S. epidermis than substrates in which temporins were grafted via their C- or N-terminus.

C9/12 Ribbon-Like Structures in Hybrid Peptides Alternating α- and Thiazole-Based γ-Amino Acids

Chemistry. 2017 Dec 11;23(69):17584-17591. doi: 10.1002/chem.201704001. Epub 2017 Nov 15.

Bonnel C, Legrand B, Simon M, Martinez J, Bantignies JL, Kang YK, Wenger E, Hoh F, Masurier N, Maillard LT.


According to their restricted conformational freedom, heterocyclic γ-amino acids are usually considered to be related to Z-vinylogous γ-amino acids. In this context, oligomers alternating α-amino acids and thiazole-based γ-amino acids (ATCs) were expected to fold into a canonical 12-helical shape as described for α/γ-hybrid peptides composed of cis-α/β-unsaturated γ-amino acids. However, through a combination of X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, FTIR experiments, and DFT calculations, it was determined that the folding behavior of ATC-containing hybrid peptides is much more complex. The homochiral α/(S)-ATC sequences were unable to adopt a stable conformation, whereas the heterochiral α/(R)-ATC peptides displayed novel ribbon structures stabilized by unusual C9/12 -bifurcated hydrogen bonds. These ribbon structures could be considered as a succession of pre-organized γ/α dipeptides and may provide the basis for designing original α-helix mimics.

Ribbon-like Foldamers for Cellular Uptake and Drug Delivery

Chembiochem 2017 Nov 2;18(21):2110-2114. doi: 10.1002/cbic.201700455. Epub 2017 Sep 22.

Vezenkov LL, Martin V, Bettache N, Simon M, Messerschmitt A, Legrand B, Bantignies JL, Subra G, Maynadier M, Bellet V, Garcia M, Martinez J, Amblard M.


Different intracellular delivery systems of bioactive compounds have been developed, including cell-penetrating peptides. Although usually nontoxic and biocompatible, these vectors share some of the general drawbacks of peptides, notably low bioavailability and susceptibility to protease degradation, that limit their use. Herein, the conversion of short peptide sequences into poly-α-amino-γ-lactam foldamers that adopt a ribbon-like structure is investigated. This template is used to distribute critical cationic and/or hydrophobic groups on both sides of the backbone, leading to potent short, cell-permeable foldamers with a low positive-charge content. The lead compound showed dramatically improved protease resistance and was able to efficiently deliver a biologically relevant cargo inside cells. This study provided a simple strategy to convert short peptide sequences into efficient protease-resistant cell-penetrating foldamers.

Structure-Activity Relationships of JMV4463, a Vectorized Cathepsin D Inhibitor with Antiproliferative Properties: The Unique Role of the AMPA-Based Vector

ChemMedChem, 2016, Volume: 11, Issue: 3, Pages: 302-308, DOI: 10.1002/cmdc.201500457

L. Vezenkov, C. A. Sanchez, V. Bellet, V. Martin, M. Maynadier, N. Bettache, V. Lisowski, J. Martinez, M. Garcia, M. Amblard, J. F. Hernandez


Cathepsin D (CathD) is overexpressed and secreted by several solid tumors and stimulates their growth, the mechanism of which is still not understood.  In this context, the pepstatin bioconjugate JMV4463 [Ac-arg-O2Oc-(Val)3-Sta-Ala-Sta-(AMPA)4-NH2; O2Oc=8-amino-3,6-dioxaoctanoyl, Sta=statine, AMPA=ortho-aminomethylphenylacetyl], contg. a new kind of cell-penetrating vector, was previously shown to exhibit potent antiproliferative effects in vitro and to delay the onset of tumors in vivo.  In this study, the authors performed a structure-activity relationship anal. to evaluate the significance of the inhibitor and vector moieties of JMV4463.  By modifying both statine residues of pepstatin the authors found that the antiproliferative activity is correlated with CathD inhibition, supporting a major role of the catalytic activity of intracellular CathD in cancer cell proliferation.  Replacing the vector composed of four AMPA units with other vectors was found to abolish cytotoxicity, although all of the conjugates enabled pepstatin transport into cells.  In addn., the AMPA4 vector must be localized at the C terminus of the bioconjugate.  The unexpected importance of the vector structure and position for cytotoxic action suggests that AMPA4 enables pepstatin to inhibit the proteolysis of crit. CathD substrates involved in cell proliferation via a unique mechanism of action.

Unambiguous and Controlled One-Pot Synthesis of Multifunctional Silica Nanoparticles

Chemistry of Materials, 2016, Volume: 28, Issue: 3, Pages: 885-889, DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.5b04398

J. Ciccione, T. Jia, J .L. Coll, K. Parra, M. Amblard, S. Jebors, J. Martinez, A. Mehdi, G. Subra 


A method for obtaining in a single step well-defined tunable multifunctional fluorescent particles having their surface functionalized with multiple covalently linked ligands is reported.  The strategy relies on the synthesis of hybrid bioorg.-inorg. peptide ligands, greatly simplifying the design of multifunctional nanoparticles.  It was possible to tune the ratio of two grafted ligands on the surface of the SiNPs simply by adjusting the relative concn. of hybrid species in the starting soln.  An original fluorine NMR method was applied to the dissolved SiNPs to demonstrate our hypothesis.

A switchable stapled peptide

Journal of Peptide Science, 2016, Volume: 22, Issue: 3, Pages: 143-148, DOI: 10.1002/psc.2851

A. Kalistratova, B. Legrand, P. Verdie, E. Naydenova, M. Amblard, J. Martinez, G. Subra


The O-N acyl transfer reaction has gained significant popularity in peptide and medicinal chem.  This reaction has been successfully applied to the synthesis of difficult sequence-contg. peptides, cyclic peptides, epimerization-free fragment coupling and more recently, to switchable peptide polymers.  Herein, we describe a related strategy to facilitate the synthesis and purifn. of a hydrophobic stapled peptide.  The staple consists of a serine linked through an amide bond formed from its carboxylic acid function and the side chain amino group of diaminopropionic acid and through an ester bond formed from its amino group and the side chain carboxylic acid function of aspartic acid.  The α-amino group of serine was protonated during purifn.  Interestingly, when the peptide was placed at physiol. pH, the free amino group initiated the O-N shift reducing the staple length by one atom, leading to a more hydrophobic stapled peptide.

Selective homodimerization of unprotected peptides using hybrid hydroxydimethylsilane derivatives

RSC Advances, 2016, Volume: 6, Issue: 39, Pages: 32905-32914, DOI: 10.1039/C6RA06075G

C. Echalier, A. Kalistratova, J. Ciccione, A. Lebrun, B. Legrand, E. Naydenova, D. Gagne, J. A. Fehrentz , J. Marie, M. Amblard, A. Mehdi, J. Martinez, G. Subra 


We developed a simple and straightforward way to dimerize unprotected peptide sequences that relies on a chemoselective condensation of hybrid peptides bearing a hydroxydimethylsilyl group at a chosen position (either C-ter, N-ter or side-chain linked) to generate siloxane bonds upon freeze-drying. Interestingly, the siloxane bond sensitivity to hydrolysis is strongly pH-dependent. Thus, we investigated the stability of siloxane dimers in different exptl. conditions. For that purpose, 29Si, 13C and 1H NMR spectra were recorded to accurately quantify the ratio of dimer/monomer. More interestingly, we showed that 1H resonances of the methylene and Me groups connected to the Si can be used as sensitive probes to monitor siloxane hydrolysis and to det. the half-lives of the dimers. Importantly, we showed that the dimers were rather stable at pH 7.4 (t1/2 ≈ 400 h) and we applied the dimerization strategy to bioactive sequences. Once optimized, three dimers of the growth hormone releasing hexapeptide (GHRP-6) were prepd. Interestingly, their pharmacol. evaluation revealed that the activity of the dimeric ligands could be switched from agonist to inverse agonist depending on the position of dimerization.

Conformationally Constrained Peptidomimetics as Inhibitors of the Protein Arginine Methyl Transferases

Chemistry – A European Journal, 2016, Volume: 22, Issue: 39, Pages: 14022-14028, DOI: 10.1002/chem.201602518

A. Knuhtsen, B. Legrand, O. Van der Poorten, M. Amblard, J. Martinez, S. Ballet, J. L. Kristensen, D. S. Pedersen 


Protein arginine N-Me transferases (PRMTs) belong to a family of enzymes that modulate the epigenetic code through modifications of histones.  In the present study, peptides emerging from a phage display screening were modified in the search for PRMT inhibitors through substitution with non-proteinogenic amino acids, N-alkylation of the peptide backbone, and incorporation of constrained dipeptide mimics.  One of the modified peptides (23) showed an increased inhibitory activity towards several PRMTs in the low μM range and the conformational preference of this peptide was investigated and compared with the original hit using CD and NMR spectroscopy.  Introducing two constrained tryptophan residue mimics (L-Aia) spaced by a single amino acid was found to induce a unique turn structure stabilized by a hydrogen bond and arom. π-stacking interaction between the two L-Aia residues.