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Several ion channel forming cyclic peptides have been reported over the past two decades and various ion conducting mechanisms have been proposed. In this article, we report on amino acid substitutions in cyclic hexapeptides and their effects on the ion conducting properties of these peptides. Cyclic hexapeptides, cyclo(Pro-Xxx-Yyy)2, containing two Pro residues, were used as the main framework. The substitution is performed at the Xxx positions with cationic/hydrophilic Lys or hydrophobic Leu. Yyy positions were substituted with D-Phe, D-Ala, or Gly. The peptides which were absent Lys residues showed ion conducting profiles with clear transitions of electric currents, whereas the peptides containing Lys residues tended to exhibit spiky or burst-like profiles. These profiles were altered single state profiles by the protection of ε-amino groups with aromatic protecting groups. The protected analogs exhibited significant decrease in ion conductance. These results indicated that peptides containing Lys conduct ions without forming ring stacked tube-like structure. Ion channel properties were also affected by conformational changes of the cyclic peptides induced by substitution of the Yyy positions. Enhancement of intramolecular β-turn structures of cyclic peptides tended to decrease their ion conductance values.


This article was originally published in Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Japan, 83(6): 683-688. © 2010 Chemical Society of Japan