• α-N-protected dipeptide acids;
  • mixed carbonic carboxylic anhydride;
  • free amino acids;
  • tetrabutylammonium hydroxide;
  • epimerization;
  • isotripeptides

The importance of dipeptides both in medicinal and pharmacological fields is well documented and many efforts have been made to find simple and efficient methods for their synthesis. For this reason, we have investigated the synthesis of α-N-protected dipeptide acids by reacting the easily accessible mixed anhydride of α-N-protected amino acids with free amino acids under different reaction conditions. The combination of TBA-OH and DMSO has been found to be the best to overcome the low solubility of amino acids in organic solvents. Under these experimental conditions, the homogeneous phase condensation reaction occurs rapidly and without detectable epimerization. The present method is also applicable to side-chain unprotected Tyr, Trp, Glu, and Asp but not Lys. This latter residue is able to engage two molecules of mixed anhydride giving the corresponding isotripeptide. Moreover, the applicability of this protocol for the synthesis of tri- and tetrapeptides has been tested. This approach reduces the need for protecting groups, is cost effective, scalable, and yields dipeptide acids that can be used as building blocks in the synthesis of larger peptides. Copyright © 2013 European Peptide Society and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.