The role of hydrophobic /hydrophilic balance in the activity of structurally flexible vs rigid cytolytic polypeptides and analogues developed on their basis.
Being important representatives of various proteomes, membrane-active cationic peptides (CPs) are attractive objects as lead compounds in the design of new antibacterial, anticancer, antifungal, and antiviral molecules. Numerous CPs are found in insect and snake venoms, where many of them reveal cytolytic properties. Due to advances in omics technologies, the number of such peptides is growing dramatically. Areas covered: To understand structure-function relationships for CPs in a living cell, detailed analysis of their hydrophobic/hydrophilic properties is indispensable. We consider two structural classes of membrane-active CPs - latarcins (Ltc) from spider and cardiotoxins (CTXs) from snake venoms. While the former are void off disulphide bonds and conformationally flexible, the latter are structurally rigid and cross-linked with disulphide bonds. In order to elucidate structure-activity relationships behind their antibacterial, anticancer, and hemolytic effects, the properties of these polypeptides are considered on a side-by-side basis. Expert commentary: An ever increasing number of venom-derived membrane-active polypeptides require new methods for identification of their functional propensities and sequence-based design of novel pharmacological substances. We address these issues considering a number of the designed peptides, based either on Ltc or CTX sequences. Experimental and computer modeling techniques required for these purposes are delineated.