Engineering the polyproline II propensity of a class II major histocompatibility complex ligand peptide

ACS Chem Biol. 2013 Nov 15;8(11):2383-7. doi: 10.1021/cb400594q. Epub 2013 Sep 11.


Our immune system constantly samples peptides found inside the body as a means to detect foreign pathogens, infected cells, and tumorous cells. T cells, which carry out the critical task of distinguishing self from nonself peptides, can only survey peptides that are presented by the major histocompatibility complex protein. We investigated how the secondary structure of a peptide, namely, the polyproline II helix content, influences major histocompatibility complex binding. We synthesized 12 analogues of the wheat gluten derived α-I-gliadin peptide and tested their binding to the celiac disease associated HLA-DQ2 protein. Our analogue library represents a broad spectrum of polyproline II propensities, ranging from random coil structure to high polyproline II helix content. Overall, there was no noticeable correlation between the peptide polyproline II helix content and HLA-DQ2 binding. One analogue peptide, which has low polyproline II helix content, showed a 4.5-fold superior binding compared to native α-I-gliadin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Circular Dichroism
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Gliadin / chemistry
  • Gliadin / genetics
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / chemistry*
  • Ligands
  • Peptides / chemistry*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Engineering
  • Protein Structure, Secondary


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Ligands
  • Peptides
  • polyproline
  • Gliadin