Conformational studies of stereoisomeric 14-membered cyclic enkephalin analogues containing 1-naphthylalanine at the fourth position: chirality effect of leucine at the fifth position on biological activity and receptor selectivity.

PMID 1655089


In order to study structure-activity relationships of enkephalin-related analogues, we report the biological activity and conformational analysis of four 14-membered cyclic enkephalin analogues with beta-(1-naphthyl) alanine in place of phenylalanine at the fourth position, Tyr-c[D-A2bu-Gly-(L and D)-beta Nal(1)-(L and D)-Leu]. The L-beta Nal(1)-containing analogues display higher activity at both the mu and delta receptors than the corresponding analogues with the L-Phe residue. In contrast to the linear enkephalins, the cyclic analogues with the D-beta Nal(1) residue are also active at the mu receptor since the relative spatial arrangement of functional groups required for biological activity is achieved by the constrained nature of the cyclic molecules. A comparison of the findings from the conformational analysis and biological assays establishes that relatively extended structures, in which the two aromatic side chains are oriented in opposite directions with a approximately 14 A separation, is required for activity at the mu receptor. On the other hand, folded conformations with nearly parallel orientations and a close proximity (less than 10A) of the aromatic rings of the Tyr and beta Nal(1) residues are required for activity at the delta receptor. It should be noted that the overall structures and thus the biological profiles of the 14-membered cyclic enkephalin analogues are strongly dependent on the conformation of the second residue. The folded conformations with parallel orientation of the two aromatic side chains of Tyr-c[D-A2bu-Gly-L-beta Nal(1)-D-Leu] is stabilized by an interaction between the Tyr phenolic OH proton and beta Nal(1) C*O groups. This analogue, which shows the highest activity at both the mu and delta receptors among the four stereoisomers studied, displays an increase of the fraction of the side-chain chi 1 = t conformer for the beta Nal(1) residue. It is concluded that the incorporation of the D-Leu residue at the fifth position increases the relative fraction of the folded conformations with parallel orientation of the aromatic side chains, and hence enhances activity at the delta receptor as compared to the corresponding L-Leu containing analogue.