The β-turn is a common motif in both proteins and peptides and often a recognition site in protein interactions. A β-turn of four sequential residues reverses the direction of the peptide chain and is classified by the Φ and Ψ backbone torsional angles of residues i + 1 and i + 2. The type VI turn usually contains a praline with a cis-amide bond at residue i + 2. Cis-proline analogs that constrain the peptide to adopt a type VI turn led to peptidomimetics with enhanced activity or metabolic stability. To compare the impact of different analogs on amide cis-trans isomerism and peptide conformation, the conformational preference for the cis-amide bond and the type VI turn was investigated at the MP2/6-31+G** level of theory in water (polarizable continuum water model). Analogs stabilize the cis-amide conformations through different mechanisms: (1) 5-alkylproline, with bulky hydrocarbon substituent on the Cδ of proline, increases the cis-amide population through steric hindrance between the alkyl substituent and the N-terminal residues; (2) oxaproline or thioproline, the oxazolidine- or thiazolidine-derived proline analog, favors interactions between the dipole of the heterocyclic ring and the preceding carbonyl oxygen; and (3) azaproline, containing a nitrogen atom in place of the Cα of proline, prefers the cis-amide bond by lone-pair repulsion between the α-nitrogen and the preceding carbonyl oxygen. Preference for the cis conformation was augmented by combining different modifications within a single proline. Azaproline and its derivatives are most effective in stabilizing cis-amide bonds without introducing additional steric bulk to compromise receptor interactions.
- Density functional theory (DFT)