SFTI-1 is a bicyclic 14 amino acid peptide that was originally isolated from the seeds of the sunflower Helianthus annuus. It is a potent inhibitor of trypsin, with a sub-nanomolar Ki value and is homologous to the active site region of the well-known family of serine protease inhibitors known as the Bowman-Birk trypsin inhibitors. It has a cyclic backbone that is cross-braced by a single disulfide bridge and a network of hydrogen bonds that result in a well-defined structure. SFTI-1 is amenable to chemical synthesis, allowing for the creation of synthetic variants. Alterations to the structure such as linearising the backbone or removing the disulfide bridge do not reduce the potency of SFTI-1 significantly, and minimising the peptide to as few as nine residues results in only a small decrease in reactivity. The creation of linear variants of SFTI-1 also provides a tool for investigating putative linear precursor peptides. The mechanism of biosynthesis of SFTI-1 is not yet known but it seems likely that it is a gene-coded product that has arisen from a precursor protein that may be evolutionarily related to classic Bowman-Birk inhibitors.
Keywords: bowman-birk inhibitor, circular backbone, cyclic peptide, potent, sfti-1
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