Cis-trans isomerization of peptoid residues in the collagen triple-helix

Rongmao Qiu, Xiaojing Li, Kui Huang, Weizhe Bai, Daoning Zhou, Gang Li, Zhao Qin, Yang Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cis-peptide bonds are rare in proteins, and building blocks less favorable to the trans-conformer have been considered destabilizing. Although proline tolerates the cis-conformer modestly among all amino acids, for collagen, the most prevalent proline-abundant protein, all peptide bonds must be trans to form its hallmark triple-helix structure. Here, using host-guest collagen mimetic peptides (CMPs), we discover that surprisingly, even the cis-enforcing peptoid residues (N-substituted glycines) form stable triple-helices. Our interrogations establish that these peptoid residues entropically stabilize the triple-helix by pre-organizing individual peptides into a polyproline-II helix. Moreover, noting that the cis-demanding peptoid residues drastically reduce the folding rate, we design a CMP whose triple-helix formation can be controlled by peptoid cis-trans isomerization, enabling direct targeting of fibrotic remodeling in myocardial infarction in vivo. These findings elucidate the principles of peptoid cis-trans isomerization in protein folding and showcase the exploitation of cis-amide-favoring residues in building programmable and functional peptidomimetics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7571
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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