Peptides: Biological Activities of Small Peptides


Peptides consist of two or more amino acids linked by covalent bonds. They exert a wide range of specific functions as chemical messengers, hormones, intracellular and intercellular mediators and highly specific stimulators and inhibitors.

Keywords: neuropeptides; hormones; inhibitors; antibiotics; chemical synthesis

Figure 1.

An active complex of EPO‐receptor is generated by a synthetic peptide discovered by combinatorial phage display methods. Binding of the peptide dimer (yellow and orange tubes) induces a symmetric dimerization of the extracellular domain of EPO receptors, shown in the pink and purple surfaces. The figure was generated from the 1EBP protein data bank coordinates.

Figure 2.

Mechanism for inactivation of serine proteases by peptide chloromethyl ketones.

Figure 3.

Three‐dimensional structures of the complex enzyme inhibitor (pink and yellow, respectively). In (a), trypsin is complexed to the 58‐residue protein inhibitor, BPTI. In (b), trypsin is complexed to a 9‐residue cyclic peptide inhibitor that mimics BPTI (courtesy of Pr. C. Gilon at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem).

Figure 4.

A model depicting a probable mechanism of action of antimicrobial peptides. Peptide monomers bind to the plasma membrane of the target cell (a). Peptide polymerization (b) leads to a pore formation (c). See the text for further details.

Figure 5.

Typical stepwise solid‐phase synthesis of a dipeptide. For longer peptides, the deprotection through coupling steps is repeated for each additional residue. See the text for further details. Ppg, permanent protection group; Tpg, temporary protection group.



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Further Reading

Boman HG (1995) Peptide antibiotics and their role in innate immunity. Annual Review of Immunology 13: 61–92.

Carolissen‐Mackay V, Arendse G and Hastings JW (1997) Purification of bacteriocins of lactic acid bacteria: problem and pointers. International Journal of Food Microbiology 34: 1–16.

Cunningham BC and Wells JA (1997) Minimized proteins. Current Opinion in Structural Biology 7: 457–462.

Dingle JT and Gordon JL (eds) (1986) Proteinase Inhibitors, Research Monographs in Cell and Tissue Physiology, vol. 12. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.

Fields GB (ed.) (1997) Solid‐Phase Peptide Synthesis, Methods in Enzymology 289. New York: Academic Press.

Ghosh J, Shaool D, Guillaud P et al. (1997) Selective cytotoxicity of dermaseptin S3 towards intraerythrocytic Plasmodium falciparum and the underlying molecular basis. Journal of Biological Chemistry 272: 31609–31616.

Grant GA (ed.) (1992) Synthetic Peptides, a User's Guide. New York: W.H. Freeman.

Kreil G (1997) d‐Amino acids in animal peptides. Annual Review of Biochemistry 66: 337–345.

Moody TW (ed.) (1993) Growth Factors, Peptides and Receptors, Department of Biochemistry GWUMC, Annual Spring Symposium. New York: Plenum Press.

Mor A, Nguyen VH, Delfour A et al. (1991) Isolation, amino acid sequence and synthesis of dermaseptin, a novel antimicrobial peptide of the amphibian skin. Biochemistry 30: 8824–8830.

Mor A and Nicolas P (1994) Isolation and structure of novel defensive peptides from frog skin. European Journal of Biochemistry 219: 145–154.

Nissen‐Meyer J and Nes IF (1997) Ribosomally synthesized antimicrobial peptides: their function, structure biogenesis and mechanism of action. Archives of Microbiology 167: 67–77.

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Mor, Amram(Apr 2001) Peptides: Biological Activities of Small Peptides. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001329]