Enzymatic peptide synthesis in low water content systems: Preparative enzymatic synthesis of [Leu]- and [Met]-enkephalin derivatives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A novel total enzymatic synthesis of [Leu]- and [Met]-enkephalin derivatives was accomplished in low-water content systems at a preparative scale. α-Chymotrypsin, papain, thermolysin and bromelain adsorbed on Celite were used as catalysts. Organic solvents such as acetonitrile and ethyl acetate with small amounts of buffer added or at specific water activity were used as reaction media. Simple readily available amino acid ester derivatives were used as starting building blocks. This feature allowed the possibility of using the products in one step directly as acyl-donor ester, without any chemical or enzymatic modification, in the next enzymatic coupling. The optimal strategy for the synthesis of the enkephalin derivatives was different depending on the carboxy terminal group. The preparation of the carboxy-terminal amide derivatives (R-Tyr-Gly-Gly-Phe-Leu[Met]-NH2) was achieved via 4 + 1 fragment condensation catalyzed by α-chymotrypsin. The carboxy-terminal ethyl ester derivatives (R-Tyr-Gly-Gly-Phe-Leu[Met]-OEt) were obtained via 2 + 3 condensation catalyzed by bromelain, a quite unusual protease for peptide synthesis but more effective than papain in this coupling. Both syntheses were carried out in four enzymatic steps and one or two chemical deprotection steps routinely used in peptide synthesis. The overall yields of pentapeptide derivatives were between 40-54% of pure product.


External organisations
  • CSIC Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo Pascual Vila (CID)
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Organic Chemistry
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-255
Number of pages11
JournalBioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1995 Jan 1
Publication categoryResearch