The Effect of Point Mutations on the Biophysical Properties of an Antimicrobial Peptide: Development of a Screening Protocol for Peptide Stability Screening

Christin Alina Pohl, Matja Zalar, Inas El Bialy, Sowmya Indrakumar, Günther H.J. Peters, Wolfgang Friess, Alexander P. Golovanov, Werner W. Streicher, Allan Noergaard, Pernille Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Therapeutic peptides and proteins show enormous potential in the pharmaceutical market, but high costs in discovery and development are limiting factors so far. Single or multiple point mutations are commonly introduced in protein drugs to increase their binding affinity or selectivity. They can also induce adverse properties, which might be overlooked in a functional screen, such as a decreased colloidal or thermal stability, leading to problems in later stages of the development. In this study, we address the effect of point mutations on the stability of the 4.4 kDa antimicrobial peptide plectasin, as a case study. We combined a systematic high-throughput biophysical screen of the peptide thermal and colloidal stability using dynamic light scattering and differential scanning calorimetry with structure-based methods including small-angle X-ray scattering, analytical ultracentrifugation, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Additionally, we applied molecular dynamics simulations to link obtained protein stability parameters to the protein's molecular structure. Despite their predicted structural similarities, all four plectasin variants showed substantially different behavior in solution. We observed an increasing propensity of plectasin to aggregate at a higher pH, and the introduced mutations influenced the type of aggregation. Our strategy for systematically assessing the stability and aggregation of protein drugs is generally applicable and is of particular relevance, given the increasing number of protein drugs in development.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Volume17
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)3298-3313
ISSN1543-8384
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • aggregation assessment
  • peptide screening
  • pharmaceutical screening
  • protein aggregation
  • protein characterization
  • protein engineering
  • protein−protein interactions

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