An unnatural amino acid that induces β-sheet folding and interaction in peptides

James S. Nowick, Kit Lam, Tatyana V. Khasanova, William E. Kemnitzer, Santanu Maitra, Hao T. Mee, Ruiwu Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


This paper introduces a unique amino acid that can readily be incorporated into peptides to make them fold into β-sheetlike structures that dimerize through β-sheet interactions. This new amino acid, Orn(i-PrCO-Hao), consists of an ornithine residue with the β-strand-mimicking amino acid Hao [J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2000, 122, 7654-7661] attached to its side chain. When Orn(i-PrCO-Hao) is incorporated into a peptide, or appended to its N-terminus, the Hao group hydrogen bonds to the three subsequent residues to form a β-sheetlike structure. The amino acid Orn(i-PrCO-Hao) is readily used in peptide synthesis as its Fmoc derivative, Fmoc-Orn(i-PrCO-Hao)-OH (3). Fmoc-Orn(i-PrCO-Hao)-OH behaves like a regular amino acid in peptide synthesis and was uneventfully incorporated into the peptide o-anisoyl-Val-Orn(i-PrCO-Hao)-Phe-Ile-Leu-NHMe (4) through standard automated Fmoc solid-phase peptide synthesis, with DIC and HOAt as the coupling agent for Fmoc-Orn(i-PrCO-Hao)-OH and o-anisic acid and HATU as the coupling agent for all other couplings. A second synthetic strategy was developed to facilitate the preparation of peptides with N-terminal Orn(i-PrCO-Hao) residues, which avoids the need for the preparation of Fmoc-Orn(i-PrCO-Hao)-OH. In this strategy, Boc-Orn(Fmoc)-OH is used as the penultimate amino acid in the peptide synthesis, and i-PrCO-Hao-OH (2) is used as the final amino acid. N-Terminal Orn(i-PrCO-Hao) peptide H-Orn(i-PrCO-Hao)-Phe-Ile-Leu-NHMe·TFA (5) was prepared in a fashion similar to that for 4, using DIC and HOAt as the coupling agent for i-PrCO-Hao-OH and HATU as the coupling agent for all other couplings. 1H NMR transverse-ROESY, coupling constant, and chemical shift studies establish that peptide 4 forms a dimeric β-sheetlike structure in CDCl3 solution. The 1H NMR studies also suggest that the ornithine unit adopts a well-defined turn conformation. Analogous 1H NMR studies of peptide 5 indicate that this TFA salt folds but does not dimerize in CD3OD solution. Collectively, these synthetic and spectroscopic studies establish that the amino acid Orn(i-PrCO-Hao) induces β-sheet structure and interactions in peptides in suitable organic solvents. Unlike the Hao amino acid, which acts as a prosthetic to replace three residues of the peptide strand, the Orn(i-PrCO-Hao) amino acid acts as a splint that helps enforce a β-sheetlike structure without replacing the residues and their side chains. This feature of Orn(i-PrCO-Hao) is important, because it allows the creation of β-sheet structure with minimal perturbation of the peptide sequence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4972-4973
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 8 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'An unnatural amino acid that induces β-sheet folding and interaction in peptides'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this