The complex formation between the proteins apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) and cyclophilin A (CypA) following oxidative stress in neuronal cells has been suggested as a main target for reverting ischemia-stroke damage. Recently, a peptide encompassing AIF residues 370-394 has been developed to target the AIF-binding site on CypA, to prevent the association between the two proteins and suppress glutamate-induced cell death in neuronal cells. Using a combined approach based on NMR spectroscopy, synthesis and in vitro testing of all Ala-scan mutants of the peptide and molecular docking/molecular dynamics, we have generated a detailed model of the AIF (370-394)/CypA complex. The model suggests us that the central region of the peptide spanning residues V374-K384 mostly interacts with the protein and that for efficient complex inhibition and preservation of CypA activity, it is bent around amino acids F46-G75 of the protein. The model is consistent with experimental data also from previous works and supports the concept that the peptide does not interfere with other CypA activities unrelated to AIF activation; therefore, it may serve as an ideal template for generating future non-peptidic antagonists.
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