Probing the conformational features of a phage display polypeptide sequence directed against single-walled carbon nanohorn surfaces

John L. Kulp, Kiyotaka Shiba, John Spencer Evans

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Single-walled carbon nanohorns (SWNHs) are interesting carbon nanostructures that have applications to science and technology. Using M13 phage display technology, polypeptides directed again SWNHs surfaces have been created for a number of nanotechnology and pharmaceutical purposes, yet the molecular mechanism of polypeptide sequence interaction and binding to SWNHs surfaces is not known. Recently, we identified a linear 12-AA M13 phage pill sequence, NH-12-5-2 (DYFSSPYYEQLF), that binds with high affinity to SWNHs surfaces. To probe the structure of this pill tail polypeptide further, we investigated the conformation of a model peptide representing the 12 AA NH-12-5-2 sequence. At neutral pH, the NH-12-5-2 model polypeptide is conformationally labile and exhibits two-state conformational exchange involving the Dl-S5 N-terminal segment. Simultaneous with this conformational exchange process is the observation that the P6 residue exhibits imido ring conformational variation. In the presence of the structure-stabilizing solvent, TFE, or at pH 2.5, both the exchange process and Pro ring motion phenomena disappear, indicating that the structure of this peptide sequence can be stabilized by extrinsic factors. Interestingly, we observe NMR parameters (ROEs, 3J coupling constants) for NH-12-5-2 in 90% v/v TFE that are consistent with the presence of a partial helical structure, similar to what was observed at low pH in our earlier CD experiments. We conclude that the NH-12-5-2 model polypeptide sequence possesses an inherent conformational instability that involves the D1-S5 sequence segment and the P6 residue but that this instability can be offset by extrinsic factors (e.g., charge neutralization, imido ring interconversion, and hydrophobic - hydrophobic interactions). These nonbonding interactions may play a role in the recognition and binding of this phage sequence region to SWNHs surfaces.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)11907-11914
    Number of pages8
    Issue number25
    StatePublished - Dec 6 2005

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Materials Science
    • Condensed Matter Physics
    • Surfaces and Interfaces
    • Spectroscopy
    • Electrochemistry


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