The peptide hormones guanylin and uroguanylin are ligands of the intestinal guanylyl cyclase-C (GC-C) that is involved in the regulation of epithelial water and electrolyte transport. The small peptides contain 15 and 16 amino acids, respectively, and two disulfide bonds with a 1-3/2-4 connectivity. This structural feature causes the unique existence of two topological isoforms for each peptide in an approximate 3:2 ratio, with only one of the isoforms exhibiting GC-C-activating potential. The two uroguanylin isomers can be separated by HPLC and are of sufficient stability to be studied separately at ambient temperatures while the two guanylin isomers are rapidly interconverting even at low temperatures. Both isomers show clearly distinguishable (1)H chemical shifts. To investigate the influence of certain amino acid side chains on this isomerism and interconversion kinetics, derivatives of guanylin and uroguanylin (L-alanine scan and chimeric peptides) were designed and synthesized by Fmoc solid-phase chemistry and compared by HPLC and 2D (1)H NMR spectroscopy. Amino acid residues with the most significant effects on the interconversion kinetics were predominantly identified in the COOH-terminal part of both peptides, whereas amino acids in the central part of the peptides only moderately affected the interconversion. Thus, the conformational conversion among the isomers of both peptides is under the control of a COOH-terminal sterical hindrance, providing a detailed model for this dynamic isomerism. Our results demonstrate that kinetic control of the interconversion process can be achieved by the introduction of side chains with a defined sterical profile at suitable sequence positions. This is of potential impact for the future development of GC-C peptide agonists and antagonists.
Copyright (c) 2004 European Peptide Society and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.