Rational design, conformational studies and bioactivity of highly potent conformationally constrained calcitonin analogues

Aphrodite Kapurniotu, Rakez Kayed, John W. Taylor, Wolfgang Voelter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Calcitonin is known for its hypocalcaemic effect and the inhibition of bone resorption, and is used therapeutically for the treatment of osteoporosis and Paget's disease. Our studies on the conformational features of human calcitonin (hCt) bioactivity have led to the conformationally constrained hCt analogue cyclo 17,21-[Asp17,Lys21]hCt (1), which had a 5-10 times higher in vivo hypocalcaemic potency than hCt [Kapurniotu, A. and Taylor, J.W. (1995) J. Med. Chem. 38, 836-847]. We hypothesized that a stabilized, possibly type I β turn/β sheet conformation between residues 17 and 21 could play a crucial role in hCt bioactivity. Here, we designed, synthesized and studied the conformation and bioactivity of 19-member to 17- member ring-size analogues of 1 with the structure cyclo17,21-[Asp17,XX21]hCt with XX = Orn (2), Dab (3) and Dap (4), of the control peptide [Asp17,Orn21]hCt (5), and of the 19-member cyclo17,21-[Glu17,Dab21]hCt (6). Analyses of the far-UV CD spectra indicated increased type I β turn and antiparallel β sheet content in the bicyclic analogues compared with hCt. In the in vivo hypocalcaemic assay, cyclo17,21-[Asp17,Orn21]hCt (2) was found to have a 400-fold higher potency than hCt and was fourfold more potent than salmon calcitonin (sCt), which has been the most potent known Ct. Analogue 3 had a 30-fold higher potency than hCt, whereas the highly constrained analogue 4 was as potent as hCt. Bioactivity was not enhanced for the nonbridged compound [Asp17, Orn21]hCt (5), whereas cyclo17,21- [Glu17,Dab21]hCt (6) showed the same bioactivity as 1. This study identifies 2 as exhibiting the highest in vivo potency among currently known Cts, while it differs in only one amino acid residue from hCt, strongly suggesting that the introduced constraint may have served in 'freezing' hCt in a bioactive conformation. Our findings provide evidence for the first time that a β turn/β sheet conformation in region 17-21 of hCt and the topological features of the side chain of Asn17 are strongly associated with in vivo bioactivity, and offer a novel lead structure for a hCt-based drug for the treatment of osteoporosis and other bone-disorder-related diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)606-618
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 15 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Calcitonin
  • Circular dichroism
  • Cyclization
  • Hypocalcemic potency
  • β turn/β sheet stabilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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