Separation of highly charged (+5 to +10) amphipathic α-helical peptide standards by cation-exchange and reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography

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© 2018 Elsevier B.V. We are currently examining the potential of amphipathic cationic α-helical peptides as a new generation of peptide standards for both cation-exchange high-performance liquid chromatography and reversed-phase chromatography. Thus, amphipathic peptides are particularly suitable for high-performance liquid chromatography standards due to the preferred binding of the non-polar face to the hydrophobic stationary phase of reversed-phase packings or the preferred binding of the polar face to the charged/hydrophilic stationary phase of cation-exchange packings. The ability of different reversed-phase or cation-exchange matrices to separate mixtures of peptide standards with only subtle hydrophilicity/hydrophobicity variations in both the non-polar and polar face of the peptides can then be assessed. Currently, we have designed de novo a mixture of six 26-residue all D-conformation amphipathic cationic α-helical peptides with a single, positively charged lysine residue in the center of the non-polar face and an increasing number of lysine residues (4–9 residues) replacing neutral residues in the polar face, resulting in an overall net positive charge of +5 to +10. Thus, the non-polar, preferred reversed-phase chromatography binding face remains constant, with only the polar face varying in hydrophilicity/hydrophobicity. Interestingly, even with the non-polar face remaining constant, reversed-phase columns of varying functional group properties (e.g., C8, C18, phenyl, polar endcapped, polar embedded) and porosity (porous versus superficially porous) were able to separate the six peptides in aq. TFA/acetonitrile gradients, albeit with different selectivities. The value of the standards in cation-exchange chromatography was expressed by monitoring the requirement of acetonitrile (0–40% in the mobile phase) to overcome hydrophobic interactions of the peptides with the cation-exchange matrix matrix when eluting with sodium perchlorate gradients at pH 6.5. Interestingly, the resolution of the higher charged peptides (+8,+9,+10) was particularly sensitive to acetonitrile levels. Our results clearly demonstrate the excellent potential of these novel peptide standards to enable optimal column choice and mobile phase conditions for reversed-phase chromatography and cation-exchange chromatography for peptide separations.

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