International journal of peptide and protein research

Pegylated peptides. IV. Enhanced biological activity of site-directed pegylated GRF analogs.

PMID 8537179


Conditions have been developed for the site-specific pegylation (NH2-terminus, side-chain and carboxy-terminus) of a potent analog of growth hormone-releasing factor, [Ala15]-hGRF(1-29)-NH2. These pegylated peptides were prepared by solid-phase peptide synthesis using the Fmoc/tBu strategy, and were fully characterized by analytical HPLC, amino-acid analysis, 1H-NMR spectroscopy and laser desorption mass spectrometry. Biological activities of hGRF analogs were determined in vitro utilizing stimulation of growth hormone release by cultured rat pituitary cells as an index. GH-releasing potencies of the pegylated hGRF analogs were compared to a series of model analogs of [Ala15]-hGRF(1-29)-NH2 that were acetylated or protected as the ethylamides at the pegylation sites. It was found that acetylation at the NH2-terminus resulted in reduced potency, which was not further affected when the NH2-terminus was pegylated, regardless of the size of poly(ethyleneglycol) (PEG) employed (e.g. PEG2000 or PEG5000). Pegylation at Asp8 or Lys12 decreased biological potency, a situation which was exacerbated by increasing the molecular weight of PEG. Pegylation at Lys21 or Asp25 did not significantly affect biological activity. The C-terminal model peptide, [Ala15,Orn(Ac)30]-hGRF(1-29)-NH2, was the most potent analog identified in this series (ca. 4-5-fold that of hGRF(1-44)-NH2. The COOH-terminal pegylated analogs retained this increased level of biological activity independent of PEG molecular weight. These studies demonstrate that a biologically active peptide can be pegylated and retain the full in vitro potency of the peptide. However, the biological activity is highly dependent on the site of pegylation and, in some cases, the molecular weight of PEG (degree of pegylation) moiety used.