Yaku’amide A (YA) is a linear anticancer peptide that is rich in bulky dehydroamino acids (ΔAAs) and β-hydroxyamino acids (β-OHAAs). In our recent total synthesis of YA, we featured a one-pot anti dehydration–azide reduction–O→N acyl transfer process for the stereospecific construction of Z- and E- ∆Ile residues. Despite previous total syntheses and our efforts, the synthesis of YA remains lengthy. Via computational studies, we identified two analogue peptides that closely resemble the conformation of YA. The use of simpler and symmetrical bulky ΔAAs such as dehydrovaline (ΔVal) and dehydroethylnorvaline (ΔEnv) as surrogates of ∆Ile, along with azlactone chemistry for their incorporation, significantly decreased the overall number of synthetic steps. Biological studies revealed that our analogues exhibited very similar activity to that of the natural product YA, demonstrating their suitability as mimics and consistency with our computational model. Despite its utility in the construction of YA analogues, azlactone chemistry is sluggish and moderate to low yielding. For this reason, we have explored strategies to streamline the synthesis of peptides containing Z-dehydroaminobutyric acid (∆Abu), ∆Val, and Z-dehydrophenylalanine (∆Phe). The key process is to form the alkene moiety via elimination of a β-sulfonium or β-OHAA embedded within a peptide, avoiding the need to form the alkene moiety via azlactone-dipeptide dehydration and bypassing sluggish amidation/ring opening steps. β-sheet disruption of Tau-model hexapeptides is a key type of inhibition for modulating Alzheimer’s disease progression. Previous studies replaced key residues with proline, due to its rigidity and lack of amide proton, to inhibit β-sheet formation. Similar to proline, ∆AAs are also known for their rigidity and ability to favor other conformations (e.g. β-hairpin, 310-helix) along with increasing peptide half-life. We have incorporated ∆Abu, ∆Val and dehydrocyclohexylglycine (∆Chg) in a highly aggregative hexapeptide sequence, using previously studied methods, to assess their capabilities as putative β-sheet breakers and to stabilize against proteolysis. Studies are continuing.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry



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peptides, synthesis, dehydrations, bulky dehydroamino acids, azlactones, anticancer, computational studies, inhibitory effects, β-sulfonium, β-hydroxyamino acid, β-sheets, Alzheimer’s disease, proteolysi