Metal complexes of chiral pentaazacrowns as conformational templates for β-turn recognition

Andrea J.H. Reaka, Chris M.W. Ho, Garland R. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Examples of reverse turns as recognition motifs in biological systems can be found in high-resolution crystal structures of antibody-peptide complexes. Development of peptidomimetics is often based on replacing the amide backbone of peptides by sugar rings, steroids, benzodiazepines, or other hetero- and carbocycles. In this approach, the chemical scaffold of the peptide backbone can be replaced while retaining activity as long as the pharmacophoric groups of the peptide side chains stay in relatively the same place; in other words, similar functional groups must overlap in space for interaction with critical receptor sites. This study evaluates the potential of metal complexes of chiral pentaazacrowns (PAC) derived by reduction of cyclic pentapeptides as β-turn mimetics. Due to the limited flexibility of the pendant chiral side groups in these metal complexes, one can potentially elicit information about the receptor-bound conformation from their binding affinities. 11 PAC crystal structures with different substitution patterns complexed with 3 different metals (Mn, Fe, Cd) as a prototypical database of potential side-chain orientations. Complexation with different metals induces subtle differences in the conformations of a particular azacrown scaffold. The lack of parameterization of transition metals for force field calculations precludes a thorough theoretical study. Thus, this study utilizes a simple geometrical comparison between the experimental data for crystalline PAC complexes and the side-chain orientations seen in classic β-turns. The FOUNDATION program was used to overlap the Cα-Cβ vectors of the corresponding ideal β-turn side-chains to all possible leaving groups of the PAC complexes. When comparing the relative orientations of the chiral side chains, a strong overlap of the bonds (between about 0.1 Å to about 0.5 Å RMS for 3 residues and up to about 1 Å RMS for 4 residues) was observed for many of the molecules. Such metal complexes may lack complete peptidomimetic activity due to the lack of spatial overlap of all four side-chain residues, however, if only three peptide side chains are needed for receptor recognition and/or binding, the metal complexes should show biological activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-600
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design
Issue number8-9
StatePublished - Aug 1 2002


  • Conformational templates
  • Drug design
  • Metal complexes
  • Pentaazacrowns
  • Receptor probes
  • β-turn mimetics

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