Dinitroimidazoles as bifunctional bioconjugation reagents for protein functionalization and peptide macrocyclization.

Affiliation

State Key Laboratory of Coordination Chemistry, Jiangsu Key Laboratory of Advanced Organic Materials, School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Nanjing University, 210093, Nanjing, China. [Email]

Abstract

Efficient and site-specific chemical modification of proteins under physiological conditions remains a challenge. Here we report that 1,4-dinitroimidazoles are highly efficient bifunctional bioconjugation reagents for protein functionalization and peptide macrocyclization. Under acidic to neutral aqueous conditions, 1,4-dinitroimidazoles react specifically with cysteines via a cine-substitution mechanism, providing rapid, stable and chemoselective protein bioconjugation. On the other hand, although unreactive towards amine groups under neutral aqueous conditions, 1,4-dinitroimidazoles react with lysines in organic solvents in the presence of base through a ring-opening & ring-close mechanism. The resulting cysteine- and lysine-(4-nitroimidazole) linkages exhibit stability superior to that of commonly employed maleimide-thiol conjugates. We demonstrate that 1,4-dinitroimidazoles can be applied in site-specific protein bioconjugation with functionalities such as fluorophores and bioactive peptides. Furthermore, a bisfunctional 1,4-dinitroimidazole derivative provides facile access to peptide macrocycles by crosslinking a pair of cysteine or lysine residues, including bicyclic peptides of complex architectures through highly controlled consecutive peptide macrocyclization.