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Beilstein J Org Chem. 2012;8:884-9. Epub 2012 Jun 13.

Intramolecular bridges formed by photoswitchable click amino acids.

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Department of Chemical Biology, Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie, Robert-Rössle-Strasse 10, 13125 Berlin, Germany.


Photoswitchable click amino acids (PSCaa) are amino acids bearing a side chain consisting of a photoswitchable unit elongated with a functional group that allows for a specific click reaction, such as an alkene that can react with the thiol group of a cysteine residue. An intramolecular click reaction results in the formation of a photoswitchable bridge, which can be used for controlling conformational domains in peptides and proteins. The ability to control conformations as well as the efficiency of the intramolecular bridging depends on the length of the PSCaa side chain and the distance to the cysteine residue to be clicked with. On comparing i,i+4 and i,i+7 spacings of PSCaa and cysteine in a model peptide without a preferred conformation, it was seen that the thiol-ene click reaction takes place efficiently in both cases. Upon induction of an α-helical structure by the addition of trifluoroethanol, the thiol click reaction occurs preferentially with the i,i+4 spacing. Even in the presence of glutathione as an additional thiol the click reaction of the PSCaa occurs intramolecularly with the cysteine rather than with the glutathione, indicating that the click reaction may be used even under reducing conditions occurring in living cells.


azobenzene; helical conformation; isomerization; molecular switches; photoswitchable click amino acid; thiol–ene click

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