Aldehyde-Catalyzed Carboxylate Exchange in a-Amino Acids with Isotopically Labeled CO2

22 November 2021, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


a-Amino acids are among the essential chemical building blocks of life. These structures are embedded in many small molecule pharmaceuticals and are the primary components of peptide-based therapeutics and biologics. Isotopically labeled a-amino acids and their derivatives have widespread use in structural and mechanistic biochemistry, quantitative proteomics, absorption distribution metabolism and excretion (ADME) profiling, and as imaging agents in positron emission tomography (PET) techniques. The preparation of carbon-labeled a-amino acids remains difficult and time consuming, with established methods involving label incorporation at an early stage of synthesis. This explains the high cost and scarcity of C-labeled products and presents a major challenge in 11C applications (11C t1/2 = 20 min). Here we report that simple aldehydes catalyze the isotopic carboxylate exchange of native a-amino acids with *CO2 (* = 14, 13, 11). Proteinogenic a-amino acids and many non-natural variants containing diverse functional groups undergo labeling. The reaction likely proceeds via the trapping of *CO2 by imine-carboxylate intermediates to generate aminomalonates that are prone to monodecarboxylation. Tempering catalyst electrophilicity was key to preventing irreversible aldehyde consumption. The pre-generation of the imine carboxylate intermediate allows for the rapid and late-stage 11C-radiolabeling of a-amino acids in the presence of 11CO2.


carboxylate exchange
amino acids
carbon dioxide

Supplementary materials

Amino Acid Carboxylate Exchange - Supporting Information
Experimental descriptions and analytical data.


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