Structural requirements for the biosynthesis of backbone cyclic peptide libraries

C. P. Scott, E. Abel-Santos, A. D. Jones, S. J. Benkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Background: Combinatorial methods for the production of molecular libraries are an important source of ligand diversity for chemical biology. Synthetic methods focus on the production of small molecules that must traverse the cell membrane to elicit a response. Genetic methods enable intracellular ligand production, but products must typically be large molecules in order to withstand cellular catabolism. Here we describe an intein-based approach to biosynthesis of backbone cyclic peptide libraries that combines the strengths of synthetic and genetic methods. Results: Through site-directed mutagenesis we show that the DnaE intein from Synechocystis sp. PCC6803 is very promiscuous with respect to peptide substrate composition, and can generate cyclic products ranging from four to nine amino acids. Libraries with five variable amino acids and either one or four fixed residues were prepared, yielding between 107 and 108 transformants. The majority of randomly selected clones from each library gave cyclic products. Conclusions: We have developed a versatile method for producing intracellular libraries of small, stable cyclic peptides. Genetic encoding enables facile manipulation of vast numbers of compounds, while low molecular weight ensures ready pharmacophore identification. The demonstrated flexibility of the method towards both peptide length and composition makes it a valuable addition to existing methods for generating ligand diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)801-815
Number of pages15
JournalChemistry and Biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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