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Site-Specific Labeling of Proteins and Peptides with Trans-cyclooctene Containing Handles Capable of Tetrazine Ligation



There is a growing library of functionalized non-natural substrates for the enzyme protein farnesyltransferase (PFTase). PFTase covalently attaches these functionalized non-natural substrates to proteins ending in the sequence CAAX, where C is a cysteine that becomes alkylated, A represents an aliphatic amino acid, and X is Ser, Met, Ala, or Gln. Reported substrates include a variety of functionalities that allow modified proteins to undergo subsequent bioconjugation reactions. To date the most common strategy used in this approach has been copper catalyzed azide-alkyne cycloaddition (CuAAC). While being fast and bioorthogonal CuAAC has limited use in live cell experiments due to copper's toxicity.1 Here, we report the synthesis of trans-cyclooctene geranyl diphosphate. This substrate can be synthesized from geraniol in six steps and be enzymatically transferred to peptides and proteins that end in a CAAX sequence. Proteins and peptides site-specially modified with trans-cyclooctene geranyl diphosphate were subsequently targeted for further modification via tetrazine ligation. As tetrazine ligation is bioorthogonal, fast, and is contingent on ring strain rather than the addition of a copper catalyst, this labeling strategy should prove useful for labeling proteins where the presence of copper may hinder solubility or biological reactivity.

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