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Open Access Methodology article

A novel method for evaluation and screening of caspase inhibitory peptides by the amino acid positional fitness score

Atsushi Yoshimori1, Ryoko Takasawa2 and Sei-ichi Tanuma123*

Author Affiliations

1 Research Institute for Biological Sciences, Tokyo University of Science, 2669 Yamazaki Noda, Chiba 278-0022, Japan

2 Genome and Drug Research Center, Tokyo University of Science, 2641 Yamazaki Noda, Chiba 278-8510, Japan

3 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tokyo University of Science, 2641 Yamazaki Noda, Chiba 278-8510, Japan

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BMC Pharmacology 2004, 4:7  doi:10.1186/1471-2210-4-7

Published: 22 May 2004

Abstract

Background

Since caspases are key executioners of apoptosis in cases of severe diseases including neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease, and viral infection diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis, potent and specific inhibitors of caspases have clinical potential. A series of peptide inhibitors has been designed based on cleavage sites of substrate proteins. However, these peptides are not necessarily the most potent to each caspase. Moreover, so far, it has proved to be difficult to design potent and specific peptide inhibitors of each caspase from sequence data of known cleavage sites in substrate proteins. We have attempted to develop a computational screening system for rapid selection of potent and specific peptide inhibitors from a comprehensive peptide library.

Results

We developed a new method for rapid evaluation and screening of peptide inhibitors based on Amino acid Positional Fitness (APF) score. By using this score, all known peptide inhibitors of each caspases-3,-7,-8, and -9 were rapidly selected in their enriched libraries. In this libraries, there were good correlations between predicted binding affinities of the known peptide inhibitors and their experimental Ki values. Furthermore, a novel potent peptide inhibitor, Ac-DNLD-CHO, for caspase-3 was able to be designed by this method. To our knowledge, DNLD is a first reported caspase-3 inhibitory peptide identified by using the computational screening strategy.

Conclusion

Our new method for rapid screening of peptide inhibitors using APF score is an efficient strategy to select potent and specific peptide inhibitors from a comprehensive peptide library. Thus, the APF method has the potential to become a valuable approach for the discovery of the most effective peptide inhibitors. Moreover, it is anticipated that these peptide inhibitors can serve as leads for further drug design and optimization of small molecular inhibitors.