Various peptides or non-structural amino acids are recognized by their specific target proteins, and perform a biological role in various pathways in vivo. Understanding the interactions between target protein and peptides (or non-structural amino acids) provides key information on the molecular interactions, which can be potentially translated to the development of novel drugs. However, it is experimentally challenging to determine the crystal structure of protein–peptide complexes. To obtain structural information on the substrate recognition of the peptide-recognizing enzyme, X-ray crystallographic studies were performed using triglycine (Gly-Gly-Gly) as the main-chain of the peptide. The crystal structure of Parengyodontium album
Proteinase K in complex with triglcyine was determined at a 1.4 Å resolution. Two different bound conformations of triglycine were observed at the substrate recognition site. The triglycine backbone forms stable interactions with β5-α4 and α5-β6 loops of the main-chain. One of the triglycine-binding conformations was identical to the binding mode of a peptide-based inhibitor from a previously reported crystal structure of Proteinase K. Triglycine has potential application in X-ray crystallography in order to identify the substrate recognition sites in the peptide binding enzymes.
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