Synthesis of oligopeptides with the sequence SXWS and their chemotactic effects on a ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena pyriformis

Eszter Illyés, Ferenc Hudecz, László Köhidai, Orsolya Láng, Pál Szabó, Ferenc Sebestyén

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3 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, the solid phase synthesis and chemical characterization of members of an SXWS sub-library (SAWS, SDWS and SKWS) as well as the comparison of their chemotactic properties with those of SEWS, which exhibits a prominent effect at 10-12 M on a ciliated protozoan, Tetrahymena pyriformis, are described. We found that the chemotaxis of cells induced with the SXWS peptides varied according to the nature of the amino acid residue (Ala, Asp, Lys) in position X. The chemotactic activity of SEWS was not surpassed by any of three new tetrapeptides, although SAWS was also chemoattractant. Interestingly, SDWS, with an acidic side chain at position X, could not elicit any chemotactic response. SKWS, however, showed mild but significant chemorepellent activity over a wide concentration range. Chemotactic selection studies showed that the two chemoattractant peptides (SAWS and SEWS) had an expressed ability to select high-responder offspring cell populations. Peptides with neutral (SDWS) or chemorepellent (SKWS) properties were not able to select such subpopulations from the mixed cultures of Tetrahymena, indicating that the chemotactic response elicited by SXWS peptides is ligand-specific. For ligand-binding experiments N-terminally labelled fluorescent derivatives of SXWS peptides were prepared, applying [4-[7-hydroxycoumaryl]]acetic acid (Hca-OH) or 4-ethoxymethylene-2-[1]-naphthyl-5(4H)-oxazolone (naOx-OEt) as markers. Hca-OH was introduced using an active ester technique as the last step of SPPS, or after cleavage in solution. The oxazolone naOx-OEt reacted with the amino group of the peptide by liberation of EtOH. The binding characteristics of fixed Tetrahymena cells with the naOx-labelled peptides showed good correlation between binding profiles and chemotactic responsiveness (SEWS > SAWS > SDWS ∼ SKWS). A similar binding pattern was observed in the case of Hca-peptides (SEWS > SAWS > SDWS). Hca-SKWS, however, bound remarkably to the cell surface. The binding activity of the Hca-peptides was less pronounced than that of the naOx-peptides, indicating the importance of the fluorophores applied.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-22
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Peptide Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 13 2002


  • Chemoattractant properties
  • Chemotactic peptides
  • Chemotactic selection
  • Fluorescent peptides
  • Peptide synthesis
  • Tetrahymena pyriformis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry

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