Helix stabilization of amphipathic peptides by hydrocarbon stapling increases cholesterol efflux by the ABCA1 transporter
Apolipoprotein mimetic peptides are short amphipathic peptides that efflux cholesterol from cells by the ABCA1 transporter and are being investigated as therapeutic agents for cardiovascular disease. We examined the role of helix stabilization of these peptides in cholesterol efflux. A 23-amino acid long peptide (Ac-VLEDSFKVSFLSALEEYTKKLNTQ-NH2) based on the last helix of apoA-I (A10) was synthesized, as well as two variants, S1A10 and S2A10, in which the third and fourth and third and fifth turn of each peptide, respectively, were covalently joined by hydrocarbon staples. By CD spectroscopy, the stapled variants at 24°C were more helical in aqueous buffer than A10 (A10 17%, S1A10 62%, S2A10 97%). S1A10 and S2A10 unlike A10 were resistant to proteolysis by pepsin and chymotrypsin. S1A10 and S2A10 showed more than a 10-fold increase in cholesterol efflux by the ABCA1 transporter compared to A10. In summary, hydrocarbon stapling of amphipathic peptides increases their helicity, makes them resistant to proteolysis and enhances their ability to promote cholesterol efflux by the ABCA1 transporter, indicating that this peptide modification may be useful in the development of apolipoprotein mimetic peptides.