To investigate the conformational flexibility of metal-complexed cyclodecapeptides, we synthesized and studied two antamanide analogs, in which the phenylalanine residue in position 6 or 9 of the sequence was substituted by Gly. Previous conformational studies on antamanide suggested that these backbone regions are affected by conformational variation. The NMR conformational study showed a high degree of flexibility for the two analogs. With sodium ions, on the other hand, [Gly9]-antamanide was able to form a fairly stable equimolar complex, whereas [Gly6]-antamanide showed a conformational heterogeneity, with one prevailing conformer.
For the [Gly9]-antamanide analog, the whole NMR data, combined with extensive theoretical calculations, were consistent with the presence of 1) two β-turns of type I, centered on Gly9-Phe10 and Ala4-Phe5, respectively; 2) a central cavity with a six-carbonyl oxygen cage, optimal for a Na+ hexacoordination; 3) strongly H-bonded amide protons for residues 1 and 6, both involved in the formation of the two type I β-turns, which, however, exhibited some fluctuations during the molecular dynamics simulations. For the[Gly6]-antamanide-Na+ complex the prevailing conformer was consistent with a more open structure, with the partial solvent exposure of all the amide protons; that is, the Gly residue in position 6 increases the flexibility of this critical site more than does the Gly in position 9. These data in some way parallel the results of the cytotoxicity tests on B16-F10 transformed cells for the two analogs: [Gly9]-antamanide is cytotoxic after 48 h exposure, whereas [Gly6]-antamanide is almost inactive. On the contrary, both analogs are practically inactive in vivo against phalloidin.