Improved Handling of Peptide Segments Using Side Chain-Based "Helping Hand" Solubilizing Tools

Methods Mol Biol. 2022;2530:81-107. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-2489-0_7.


Maintaining high, or even sufficient, solubility of every peptide segment in chemical protein synthesis (CPS) remains a critical challenge; insolubility of just a single peptide segment can thwart a total synthesis venture. Multiple approaches have been used to address this challenge, most commonly by employing a chemical tool to temporarily improve peptide solubility. In this chapter, we discuss chemical tools for introducing semipermanent solubilizing sequences (termed helping hands) at the side chains of Lys and Glu residues. We describe the synthesis, incorporation by Fmoc-SPPS, and cleavage conditions for utilizing these two tools. For Lys sites, we discuss the Fmoc-Ddap-OH dimedone-based linker, which is achiral, synthesized in one step, can be introduced directly at primary amines, and is removed using hydroxylamine (or hydrazine). For Glu sites, we detail the new Fmoc-SPPS building block, Fmoc-Glu(AlHx)-OH, which can be prepared in an efficient process over two purifications. Solubilizing sequences are introduced directly on-resin and later cleaved with palladium-catalyzed transfer under aqueous conditions to restore a native Glu side chain. These two chemical tools are straightforward to prepare and implement, and we anticipate continued usage in "difficult" peptide segments following the protocols described herein.

Keywords: Chemical protein synthesis; Difficult peptides; Fmoc-SPPS; Helping Hand; Native chemical ligation; Traceless linkers.

MeSH terms

  • Peptides* / chemistry
  • Proteins*
  • Solubility


  • Peptides
  • Proteins