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1.  An informatics search for the low-molecular weight chromium-binding peptide 
Background
The amino acid composition of a low molecular weight chromium binding peptide (LMWCr), isolated from bovine liver, is reportedly E:G:C:D::4:2:2:2, though its sequence has not been discovered. There is some controversy surrounding the exact biochemical forms and the action of Cr(III) in biological systems; the topic has been the subject of many experimental reports and continues to be investigated. Clarification of Cr-protein interactions will further understanding Cr(III) biochemistry and provide a basis for novel therapies based on metallocomplexes or small molecules.
Results
A genomic search of the non-redundant database for all possible decapeptides of the reported composition yields three exact matches, EDGEECDCGE, DGEECDCGEE and CEGGCEEDDE. The first two sequences are found in ADAM 19 (A Disintegrin and Metalloproteinase domain 19) proteins in man and mouse; the last is found in a protein kinase in rice (Oryza sativa). A broader search for pentameric sequences (and assuming a disulfide dimer) corresponding to the stoichiometric ratio E:D:G:C::2:1:1:1, within the set of human proteins and the set of proteins in, or related to, the insulin signaling pathway, yields a match at an acidic region in the α-subunit of the insulin receptor (-EECGD-, residues 175–184). A synthetic peptide derived from this sequence binds chromium(III) and forms a metal-peptide complex that has properties matching those reported for isolated LMWCr and Cr(III)-containing peptide fractions.
Conclusion
The search for an acidic decameric sequence indicates that LMWCr may not be a contiguous sequence. The identification of a distinct pentameric sequence in a significant insulin-signaling pathway protein suggests a possible identity for the LMWCr peptide. This identification clarifies directions for further investigation of LMWCr peptide fractions, chromium bio-coordination chemistry and a possible role in the insulin signaling pathway. Implications for models of chromium action in the insulin-signaling pathway are discussed.
doi:10.1186/1472-6769-4-2
PMCID: PMC539358  PMID: 15603587
2.  Redesigned and chemically-modified hammerhead ribozymes with improved activity and serum stability 
Background
Hammerhead ribozymes are RNA-based molecules which bind and cleave other RNAs specifically. As such they have potential as laboratory reagents, diagnostics and therapeutics. Despite having been extensively studied for 15 years or so, their wide application is hampered by their instability in biological media, and by the poor translation of cleavage studies on short substrates to long RNA molecules. This work describes a systematic study aimed at addressing these two issues.
Results
A series of hammerhead ribozyme derivatives, varying in their hybridising arm length and size of helix II, were tested in vitro for cleavage of RNA derived from the carbamoyl phosphate synthetase II gene of Plasmodium falciparum. Against a 550-nt transcript the most efficient (t1/2 = 26 seconds) was a miniribozyme with helix II reduced to a single G-C base pair and with twelve nucleotides in each hybridising arm. Miniribozymes of this general design were targeted to three further sites, and they demonstrated exceptional cleavage activity. A series of chemically modified derivatives was prepared and examined for cleavage activity and stability in human serum. One derivative showed a 103-fold increase in serum stability and a doubling in cleavage efficiency compared to the unmodified miniribozyme. A second was almost 104-fold more stable and only 7-fold less active than the unmodified parent.
Conclusion
Hammerhead ribozyme derivatives in which helix II is reduced to a single G-C base pair cleave long RNA substrates very efficiently in vitro. Using commonly available phosphoramidites and reagents, two patterns of nucleotide substitution in this derivative were identified which conferred both good cleavage activity against long RNA targets and good stability in human serum.
doi:10.1186/1472-6769-4-1
PMCID: PMC544870  PMID: 15588292

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