The primary focus of research in the Raucher group involves the use of computer modeling to assist in the design and evaluation of peptidic systems for both molecular recognition studies and for the synthesis of protein [beta]-turn mimetics. It is the group’s belief that careful computer modeling will prove to be a useful tool to assist in the design and evaluation for molecules for bioorganic studies. Long term goals include the design of systems for selective host-guest binding and selective transport, the design of membrane ion channels, and the design of systems for selective catalysis.
The first major area of research involves the design of systems for molecular recognition studies. The goal of the research is to design, synthesize and evaluate new peptidic macrocyclic systems for molecular recognition studies. The Raucher group’s approach involves preparation and evaluation of a general class of compounds, rather than a specific compound for a particular host-guest interaction. They have selected cyclic peptides with Cn symmetry that contain both naturally occurring [alpha]-amino acids and rigid aromatic spacers as candidates for these studies. Computer modeling is being used both to aid in design and selection of cyclic peptides and to predict host-guest interactions. Thus far, they have synthesized a number of macrocyclic peptides, that are being evaluating for their ability to act as host molecules.
The second major area of research involves the design of protein [beta]-turn mimetics- secondary structures in proteins and peptides that play major role in biochemical processes. The [beta]-turn is one of three main secondary structures found in proteins. Although a number of systems have been designed as [beta]-turn mimetic, the strategies reported thus far have significant drawbacks. The Raucher strategy involves the design and incorporation of a rigid spacer which mandates the appropriate vectors to force a peptide chain into a [beta]-turn conformation. They have selected a number of candidates for this spacer that could be prepared from naturally occurring [alpha]-amino acid. Again, they are using computer modeling to evaluate the best candidates for synthesis.
Awards & Activities
- National Cancer Institute Research Career Development Award
- Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow
- Public Health Service Research Fellowship
- National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship