Automatic Edman microsequencing of peptides containing multiple unnatural amino acids

Ruiwu Liu, Kit Lam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


It is now routine using automatic Edman microsequencing to determine the primary structure of peptides or proteins containing natural amino acids; however, a deficiency in the ability to readily sequence peptides containing unnatural amino acids remains. With the advent of synthetic peptide chemistry, combinatorial chemistry, and the large number of commercially available unnatural amino acids, there is a need for efficient and accurate structure determination of short peptides containing many unnatural amino acids. In this study, 35 commercially available α-unnatural amino acids were selected to determine their elution profile on an ABI protein sequencer. Using a slightly modified gradient program, 19 of these 35 PTH amino acids can be readily resolved and distinguished from common PTH amino acids at low picomole levels. These unnatural amino acids in conjunction with the 20 natural amino acids can be used as building blocks to construct peptide libraries, and peptide beads isolated from these libraries can be readily microsequenced. To demonstrate this, we synthesized a simple tripeptide "one-bead one-compound" combinatorial library containing 14 unnatural and 19 natural amino acids and screened this library for streptavidin-binding ligands. Microsequencing of the isolated peptide-beads revealed the novel motif Bpa-Phe(4-X)-Aib, wherein X = H, OH, and CH3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-16
Number of pages8
JournalAnalytical Biochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 2001


  • Automatic protein sequencing
  • Combinatorial peptide library
  • On-bead screening
  • Streptavidin ligands
  • Unnatural amino acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology


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