After a first edition in London in 2011, ‘Peptide Arrays’ was back this year in Edinburgh. For those who are not totally familiar with this tool, peptide libraries are traditionally un-purified peptides made on a micro-molar scale and either bound to a membrane or provided unbound in a 96-well plate format. They provide an economic alternative for screening large amounts of peptides rapidly. Although the technology has evolved to provide high content microarrays via printing techniques (similar to laser printing), large sets of data are not always straightforward to handle. Peptide libraries can be used for epitope mapping, to study protein-protein interactions, post-translational modifications and much more.
One of the highlights of the conference was certainly the keynote lecture from Mark Bradley. His group has been involved in the synthesis of arrays of PNA-peptide conjugates for a few years (Peptide Nucleic Acids or PNA are a mimic of DNA but bind with stronger affinity and are more biologically resistant) and in his talk, Mark explained how it is possible to use PNA-tags and complementary ssDNA libraries to identify peptide ligands. This technique facilitates the identification of new ligands for cell binding receptors such as GPCRs.
Cell-Penetrating Peptide (CPP) cargo conjugates
Peptide-PNA conjugates were also discussed on the second day of the conference when Peter Deuss from the Gait group at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) presented a ‘Parallel synthesis and splicing redirection activity of cell-penetrating peptide conjugate libraries of a PNA cargo’. CRB recently licenced the rights to this novel technology for parallel assembly of peptide-therapeutic cargo combinations and researchers and pharmaceutical companies are now able to purchase custom or catalogue libraries of cell penetrating peptides conjugated to the PNA of their choice to screen for optimal activity.
At the University of Oxford, Panagis Filippakopoulos studies epigenetics and particularly the role of bromodomains, the main readers of histone acetylation (see also HAT and HDAC for more information). Undoubtedly, epigenetics has been a very hot topic for the past decade (epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation and histone modifications are linked to cancer and their reversible nature means they can potentially be manipulated therapeutically). Discoveries have been made possible by readily available synthetic histone peptides containing one or multiple Post-Translational Modifications (PTM) such as methylation, acetylation, phosphorylation.
Just a few final words to thank the organiser, Dr Stephen Hoare for a great meeting. Looking forward to Peptide Arrays 2015!