Dithiothreitol (DTT) is the standard reagent for reducing disulfide bonds between and within biological molecules. At neutral pH, however, >99% of DTT thiol groups are protonated and thus unreactive. Herein, we report on (2S)-2-amino-1,4-dimercaptobutane (dithiobutylamine or DTBA), a dithiol that can be synthesized from l-aspartic acid in a few high-yielding steps that are amenable to a large-scale process. DTBA has thiol pK(a) values that are ~1 unit lower than those of DTT and forms a disulfide with a similar E°' value. DTBA reduces disulfide bonds in both small molecules and proteins faster than does DTT. The amino group of DTBA enables its isolation by cation-exchange and facilitates its conjugation. These attributes indicate that DTBA is a superior reagent for reducing disulfide bonds in aqueous solution.
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