Design, selection, and development of cyclic peptide ligands for human erythropoietin.


This work presents the selection and characterization of erythropoietin (EPO)-binding cyclic peptide ligands. The sequences were selected by screening a focused library of cyclic depsipeptides cyclo[(Nα-Ac)Dap(A)-X1-X6-AE], whose structure and amino acid compositions were tailored to mimic the EPO receptor. The sequences identified through library screening were synthesized on chromatographic resin and characterized via binding-and-elution studies against EPO to select a pool of candidate ligands. Sequences with higher hydrophobicity consistently showed stronger binding to EPO, with the exception of FSLLSH, which was noted for its lower hydrophobicity and high EPO binding. Mutagenesis studies performed on FSLLSH with natural and non-natural amino acid substitutions led to the identification of critical EPO-binding determinants, and the discovery of new peptide ligands. In particular, histidine-scanning mutagenesis performed on three lead sequences yielded the discovery of variants whose EPO-binding is more pH-sensitive, which facilitates EPO recovery. Selected ligands were studied to correlate the elution yield to the salinity of the binding buffer and the elution pH. Elution yields were consistently higher when EPO binding was performed at low ionic strength. The crystal structures of lead cyclic peptides were docked in silico against EPO to estimate the binding affinity in solution. Isotherm adsorption studies performed on FSLLSH indicated that the cyclic version of the ligand (KD=0.46μM) has a higher affinity for EPO than its corresponding linear variant (KD=1.44μM). Collectively, these studies set the stage for use of the cyclic peptide ligands as EPO purification and detection tools.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Kish, William S, Hiroyuki Sachi, Amith D Naik, Matthew K Roach, Benjamin G Bobay, Robert K Blackburn, Stefano Menegatti, Ruben G Carbonell, et al. (2017). Design, selection, and development of cyclic peptide ligands for human erythropoietin. Journal of chromatography. A, 1500. pp. 105–120. 10.1016/j.chroma.2017.04.019 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Benjamin Bobay

Assistant Professor in Radiology

I am the Assistant Director of the Duke University NMR Center and an Assistant Professor in the Duke Radiology Department. I was originally trained as a structural biochemist with an emphasis on utilizing NMR and continue to use this technique daily helping collaborators characterize protein structures and small molecules through a diverse set of NMR experiments. Through the structural characterization of various proteins, from both planta and eukaryotes, I have developed a robust protocol of utilizing computational biology for describing binding events, mutations, post-translations modifications (PTMs), and/or general behavior within in silico solution scenarios. I have utilized these techniques in collaborations ranging from plant pathologists at the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences department at the University of Amsterdam to biomedical engineers at North Carolina State University to professors in the Pediatrics department at Duke University. These studies have centered around the structural and functional consequences of PTMs (such as phosphorylation), mutation events, truncation of multi-domain proteins, dimer pulling experiments, to screening of large databases of ligands for potential binding events. Through this combination of NMR and computational biology I have amassed 50 peer-reviewed published articles and countless roles on scientific projects, as well as the development of several tutorials concerning the creation of ligand databases and high-throughput screening of large databases utilizing several different molecular dynamic and computational docking programs.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.