Structural Basis for α-Helix Mimicry and Inhibition of Protein-Protein Interactions with Oligourea Foldamers

Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2021 Feb 1;60(5):2296-2303. doi: 10.1002/anie.202008992. Epub 2020 Dec 1.


Efficient optimization of a peptide lead into a drug candidate frequently needs further transformation to augment properties such as bioavailability. Among the different options, foldamers, which are sequence-based oligomers with precise folded conformation, have emerged as a promising technology. We introduce oligourea foldamers to reduce the peptide character of inhibitors of protein-protein interactions (PPI). However, the precise design of such mimics is currently limited by the lack of structural information on how these foldamers adapt to protein surfaces. We report a collection of X-ray structures of peptide-oligourea hybrids in complex with ubiquitin ligase MDM2 and vitamin D receptor and show how such hybrid oligomers can be designed to bind with high affinity to protein targets. This work should enable the generation of more effective foldamer-based disruptors of PPIs in the context of peptide lead optimization.

Keywords: foldamers; helical structures; oligoureas; protein-protein interactions; structure-activity relationships.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Structure
  • Protein Conformation, alpha-Helical / physiology*
  • Urea / chemistry*


  • Urea