Cyclotides: From Structure to Function

Chem Rev. 2019 Dec 26;119(24):12375-12421. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.9b00402. Epub 2019 Dec 12.


This Review explores the class of plant-derived macrocyclic peptides called cyclotides. We include an account of their discovery, characterization, and distribution in the plant kingdom as well as a detailed analysis of their sequences and structures, biosynthesis and chemical synthesis, biological functions, and applications. These macrocyclic peptides are around 30 amino acids in size and are characterized by their head-to-tail cyclic backbone and cystine knot motif, which render them to be exceptionally stable, with resistance to thermal or enzymatic degradation. Routes to their chemical synthesis have been developed over the past two decades, and this capability has facilitated a wide range of mutagenesis and structure-activity relationship studies. In turn, these studies have both led to an increased understanding of their mechanisms of action as well as facilitated a range of applications in agriculture and medicine, as ecofriendly crop protection agents, and as drug leads or scaffolds for pharmaceutical design. Our overall objective in this Review is to provide readers with a comprehensive overview of cyclotides that we hope will stimulate further work on this fascinating family of peptides.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't