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1.  Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of New CRH Analogues 
A series of 7 new human/rat Corticotropin Releasing Hormone (h/r-CRH) analogues were synthesized. The induced alterations include substitution of Phe at position 12 with D-Phe, Leu at positions 14 and 15 with Aib and Met at positions 21 and 38 with Cys(Et) and Cys(Pr). The analogues were tested regarding their binding affinity to the CRH-1 receptor and their activity which is represented by means of percentage of maximum response in comparison to the native molecule. The results indicated that the introduction of Aib, or Cys derivatives although altering the secondary structure of the molecule, did not hinder receptor recognition and binding.
PMCID: PMC2905701  PMID: 20689735
2.  Zinc Binding Properties of Engineered RING Finger Domain of Arkadia E3 Ubiquitin Ligase 
Human Arkadia is a nuclear protein consisted of 989 amino acid residues, with a characteristic RING domain in its C-terminus. The RING domain harbours the E3 ubiquitin ligase activity needed by Arkadia to ubiquitinate its substrates such as negative regulators of TGF-╬▓ signaling. The RING finger domain of Arkadia is a RING-H2 type and its structure and stability is strongly dependent on the presence of two bound Zn(II) ions attached to the protein frame through a defined Cys3-His2-Cys3 motif. In the present paper we transform the RING-H2 type of Arkadia finger domain to nonnative RING sequence, substituting the zinc-binding residues Cys955 or His960 to Arginine, through site-directed mutagenesis. The recombinant expression, in Escherichia coli, of the mutants C955R and H960R reveal significant lower yield in respect with the native polypeptide of Arkadia RING-H2 finger domain. In particular, only the C955R mutant exhibits expression yield sufficient for recombinant protein isolation and preliminary studies. Atomic absorption measurements and preliminary NMR data analysis reveal that the C955R point mutation in the RING Finger domain of Arkadia diminishes dramatically the zinc binding affinity, leading to the breakdown of the global structural integrity of the RING construct.
PMCID: PMC2905715  PMID: 20689703
3.  Synthetic Peptides as Structural Maquettes of Angiotensin-I Converting Enzyme Catalytic Sites 
The rational design of synthetic peptides is proposed as an efficient strategy for the structural investigation of crucial protein domains difficult to be produced. Only after half a century since the function of ACE was first reported, was its crystal structure solved. The main obstacle to be overcome for the determination of the high resolution structure was the crystallization of the highly hydrophobic transmembrane domain. Following our previous work, synthetic peptides and Zinc(II) metal ions are used to build structural maquettes of the two Zn-catalytic active sites of the ACE somatic isoform. Structural investigations of the synthetic peptides, representing the two different somatic isoform active sites, through circular dichroism and NMR experiments are reported.
PMCID: PMC2902127  PMID: 20634989

Results 1-3 (3)