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Insights into the molecular mechanisms of action of bioportides: a strategy to target protein-protein interactions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 January 2015

John Howl*
Molecular Pharmacology Group, Research Institute in Healthcare Science, University of Wolverhampton, Wulfruna Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1LY, UK
Sarah Jones
Molecular Pharmacology Group, Research Institute in Healthcare Science, University of Wolverhampton, Wulfruna Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1LY, UK
*Corresponding author: John Howl, Molecular Pharmacology Group, Research Institute in Healthcare Science, University of Wolverhampton, Wulfruna Street, Wolverhampton WV1 1LY, UK. E-mail:


Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are reliable vehicles for the target-selective intracellular delivery of therapeutic agents. The identification and application of numerous intrinsically bioactive CPPs, now designated as bioportides, is further endorsement of the tremendous clinical potential of CPP technologies. The refinement of proteomimetic bioportides, particularly sequences that mimic cationic α-helical domains involved in protein-protein interactions (PPIs), provides tremendous opportunities to modulate this emergent drug modality in a clinical setting. Thus, a number of CPP-based constructs are currently undergoing clinical trials as human therapeutics, with a particular focus upon anti-cancer agents. A well-characterised array of synthetic modifications, compatible with modern solid-phase synthesis, can be utilised to improve the biophysical and pharmacological properties of bioportides and so achieve cell-and tissue-selective targeting in vivo. Moreover, considering the recent successful development of stapled α-helical peptides as anti-cancer agents, we hypothesise that similar structural modifications are applicable to the design of bioportides that more effectively modulate the many interactomes known to underlie human diseases. Thus, we propose that stapled-helical bioportides could satisfy all of the clinical requirements for metabolically stable, intrinsically cell-permeable agents capable of regulating discrete PPIs by a dominant negative mode of action with minimal toxicity.

Review Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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