Catch and Release: Engineered Allosterically Regulated β‑Roll Peptides Enable On/Off Biomolecular Recognition

Alternative scaffolds for biomolecular recognition are being developed to overcome some of the limitations associated with immunoglobulin domains. The repeat-in-toxin (RTX) domain is a repeat protein sequence that reversibly adopts the β-roll secondary structure motif specifically upon calcium binding. This conformational change was exploited for controlled biomolecular recognition. Using ribosome display, an RTX peptide library was selected to identify binders to a model protein, lysozyme, exclusively in the folded state of the peptide. Several mutants were identified with low micromolar dissociation constants. After concatenation of the mutants, a 500-fold increase in the overall affinity for lysozyme was achieved leading to a peptide with an apparent dissociation constant of 65 nM. This mutant was immobilized for affinity chromatography experiments, and the on/off nature of the molecular recognition was demonstrated as the target is captured from a mixture in the presence of calcium and is released in the absence of calcium as the RTX peptides lose their β-roll structure. This work presents the design of a new stimulus-responsive scaffold that can be used for environmentally responsive specific molecular recognition and self-assembly.