• epimerization;
  • peptide thioester;
  • peptide condensation

Peptide segment couplings are now widely utilized in protein chemical synthesis. One of the key structures for the strategy is the peptide thioester. Peptide thioester condensation, in which a C-terminal peptide thioester is selectively activated by silver ions then condensed with an amino component, is a powerful tool. But the amino acid adjacent to the thioester is at risk of epimerization. During the preparation of peptide thioesters by the Boc solid-phase method, no substantial epimerization of the C-terminal amino acid was detected. Epimerization was, however, observed during a thioester–thiol exchange reaction and segment condensation in DMSO in the presence of a base. In contrast, thioester–thiol exchange reactions in aqueous solutions gave no epimerization. The epimerization during segment condensation was significantly suppressed with a less polar solvent that is applicable to segments in thioester peptide condensation. These results were applied to a longer peptide thioester condensation. The epimer content of the coupling product of 89 residues was reduced from 27% to 6% in a condensation between segments of 45 and 44 residues for the thioester and the amino component, respectively. Copyright © 2012 European Peptide Society and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.