Intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) of proteins are involved in many diseases. The rational drug design against disease-mediating proteins is often based on the 3D structure; however, the flexible structure of IDRs hinders the use of such structure-based design methods. Here, we developed a rational design method to obtain a peptide that can bind an IDR using only sequence information based on the statistical contact energy of amino acid pairs. We applied the method to the disordered C-terminal domain of the tumor suppressor p53. Titration experiments revealed that one of the designed peptides, DP6, has a druggable affinity of ~1 μM to the p53 C-terminal domain. NMR spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulation revealed that DP6 selectively binds to the vicinity of the target sequence in the C-terminal domain of p53. DP6 inhibits the nonspecific DNA binding of a tetrameric form of the p53 C-terminal domain, but does not significantly affect the specific DNA binding of a tetrameric form of the p53 core domain. Single-molecule measurements revealed that DP6 retards the 1D sliding of p53 along DNA, implying modulation of the target searching of p53. Statistical potential-based design may be useful in designing peptides that target IDRs for therapeutic purposes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas