Copper-mediated selenazolidine deprotection enables one-pot chemical synthesis of challenging proteins

23 July 2019, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


While chemical protein synthesis (CPS) has granted access to challenging proteins, synthesis of longer proteins is often limited by low abundance or non-strategic placement of cysteine (Cys) residues, essential for native chemical ligations (NCL), as well as multiple purification and isolation steps. Selective deselenization and one-pot CPS serve as key technologies to circumvent these issues. Herein, we describe the one-pot total synthesis of human thiosulfate: glutathione sulfurtransferase (TSTD1), a 115-residue protein with a single Cys residue at its active site, and its seleno-analogue. WT-TSTD1 was synthesized in a C-to-N synthetic approach employing multiple NCL reactions, Cu(II)-mediated deprotection of selenazolidine (Sez), and chemoselective deselenization, all in one-pot. In addition, the protein’s seleno analogue (Se-TSTD1), in which the active site Cys is replaced with selenocysteine, was synthesized with a kinetically controlled ligation in a one-pot, N-to-C synthetic approach. TSTD1’s one-pot synthesis was made possible by the newly reported, rapid, and facile copper-mediated selenazolidine deprotection that can be accomplished in one minute. Finally, catalytic activity of the two proteins indicated that Se-TSTD1 possessed only four-fold lower activity than WT-TSTD1 as a thiosulfate: glutathione sulfurtransferase, suggesting that selenoproteins can have physiologically comparable sulfutransferase activity as their cysteine counterparts.


selenocysteine residue
human thiosulfate: glutathione sulfurtransferase
one-pot chemical protein synthesis
Native Chemical Ligation


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