Structure of pressinoic acid: the cyclic moiety of vasopressin

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Science  06 Jun 1986:
Vol. 232, Issue 4755, pp. 1240-1242
DOI: 10.1126/science.3704648


Arginine vasopressin consists of a 20-membered, disulfide-linked macrocyclic ring system called pressinoic acid to which is attached a COOH-terminal tripeptide. The molecular conformation of pressinoic acid has been determined from single crystal x-ray diffraction data. The 20-membered macrocyclic ring, stabilized by two intramolecular hydrogen bonds, has a type I beta-bend centered on Gln4 and Asn5 and a highly distorted type II' bend centered on Phe3 and Gln4. In vasopressin the Asn5 side chain extends away from the macrocyclic ring system and hydrogen bonds to the terminal tripeptide, but in pressinoic acid the Asn5 side chain lies over the molecule and forms a strong hydrogen bond to the nitrogen of Tyr2. The absence of pressor activity in pressinoic acid may be a result of both the loss of the COOH-terminal tripeptide and the incorrect orientation of the Asn5 side chain. Whether this class of hormones has pressor or oxytocic activity is determined by the orientation of the Tyr2 side chain, that is, whether it is extended away from or over the ring system, respectively. In pressinoic acid, the Tyr2 side chain is in the expected "pressor conformation," that is, extended away from the ring system, and is stabilized through a hydrophobic interaction with the Phe3 side chain. Thus, the conformation of the pressinoic acid molecule partly explains the activity of vasopressin-like hormones.