The selective N-arylation of p-aminophenylalanine in polypeptides with pre-formed palladium oxidative addition complexes is described. The depressed pKa of the aniline NH2 group enables chemoselective C−N bond formation on peptides containing multiple other aliphatic amino groups at lysines or the N-terminus via Curtin-Hammett control under mild conditions. Using palladium complexes derived from electron-poor aryl halides, p-aminophenylalanine is fully arylated in aqueous buffer in as little as one hour at micromolar concentrations. A complementary protocol using the non-nucleophilic, organic base 1,5-diazabicyclo(4.3.0)non-5-ene (DBN), expands the substrate scope to tolerate electron-rich functional groups provides up to 97 % conversion. These procedures enable the chemoselective conjugation of functionally diverse small molecule pharmaceuticals to p-aminophenylalanine containing derivatives of cell-penetrating peptides.
“Selective N-Arylation of p-Aminophenylalanine in Unprotected Peptides with Organometallic Palladium Reagents”, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2021, 60(31), 16928-16931.