Charged cyclic hexapeptides: Updating molecular descriptors for permeability purposes

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Three polar cyclic hexapeptides differently charged at physiological pH (1 = neutral, 2 = anionic, 3 = cationic) were synthesized and their cell permeability measured. Lipophilicity in octanol/water didn't account for the higher permeability of the cationic derivative but three chromatographic indexes (log KwIAM, log k′ HILIC and log k′ c-HILIC) were more efficient to this respect. NMR amide chemical shift temperature coefficients (ΔδNH/ΔT) were used to explore the IMHB network of the backbone. MD simulations in different environments (water, chloroform and DMPC lipid bilayer) highlighted that the charged amino group of the lysine moiety of 3 is not involved in the formation of any IMHB in water whereas a different behavior is registered in chloroform and DMPC lipid bilayer. Overall this paper highlights how a combination of experimental and computational approaches could help in comparing permeability and physicochemical properties of neutral and charged cyclic peptides.Graphical abstract

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