In the present study, the effect of a conformational constraint introduced into the endomorphin-2 (Tyr-Pro-Phe-Phe-NH2, EM-2) structure was studied using computational analysis and radioligand binding assay. EM-2 was modified by connecting nitrogen atoms of both phenylalanine residues by a methylene bridge. The obtained analog did not bind to the µ- or δ-opioid receptors in the in vitro studies. The computational analysis of this analog showed twisted, type IV turns and the absence of canonical β-turns typical for the EM-2 structure, which can be explained by the lack of hydrogen bonds involving Phe4. Our results show that the introduction of chemical constraint in the EM-2 structure has a significant effect on opioid receptor affinity and in vitro bioactivity.
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