2021 Volume 69 Issue 7 Pages 681-692
Protein–protein interactions (PPIs) are often mediated by helical, strand and/or coil secondary structures at the interface regions. We previously showed that non-naturally occurring, stable helical trimers of bicyclic β-amino acids (Abh) with all-trans amide bonds can block the p53–MDM2/MDMX α-helix–helix interaction, which plays a role in regulating p53 function. Here, we conducted docking and molecular dynamics calculations to guide the structural optimization of our reported compounds, focusing on modifications of the C-terminal/N-terminal residues. We confirmed that the modified peptides directly bind to MDM2 by means of thermal shift assay, isothermal titration calorimetry, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) experiments. Biological activity assay in human osteosarcoma cell line SJSA-1, which has wild-type p53 and amplification of the Mdm2 gene, indicated that these peptides are membrane-permeable p53–MDM2/MDMX interaction antagonists that can rescue p53 function in the cells.