A synthetic peptide mimic of λ-Cro shows sequence-specific binding in vitro and in vivo

Abhishek Mazumder, Atanu Maiti, Koushik Roy, Siddhartha Roy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Development of small synthetic transcription factors is important for future cellular engineering and therapeutics. This article describes the chemical synthesis of α-amino-isobutyric acid (Aib) substituted, conformationally constrained, helical peptide mimics of Cro protein from bacteriophage λ that encompasses the DNA recognition elements. The Aib substituted constrained helical peptide monomer shows a moderately reduced dissociation constant compared to the corresponding unsubstituted wild type peptide. A suitably cross-linked dimeric version of the peptide, mimicking the dimeric protein, recapitulates some of the important features of Cro. It binds to the operator site O R3, a high affinity Cro binding site in the λ genome, with good affinity and single base-pair discrimination specificity. A dimeric version of an even shorter peptide mimic spanning only the recognition helix of the helix-turn-helix motif of the Cro protein was created following the same design principles. This dimeric peptide binds to O R3 with affinity greater than that of the longer version. Chemical shift perturbation experiments show that the binding mode of this peptide dimer to the cognate operator site sequence is similar to the wild type Cro protein. A Green Fluorescent Protein based reporter assay in vivo reveals that the peptide dimer binds the operator site sequences with considerable selectivity and inhibits gene expression. Peptide mimics designed in this way may provide a future framework for creating effective synthetic transcription factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1084-1094
Number of pages11
JournalACS Chemical Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 15 2012


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