The study of mucin function requires access to highly O-glycosylated peptides with multiple tandem repeats. Solid-phase synthesis would be a suitable method, however, the central problem in the synthesis of mucin glycopeptides is the need to use precious and potentially vulnerable glycoamino acid building blocks in excess. In this article, we report the development of a method based on SPPS and native chemical ligation/desulfurization chemistry that allows the rapid, reliable, and glyco-economical synthesis of long multi-O-GalNAcylated peptides. To facilitate access to the glycosyl donor required for the preparation of Fmoc-Ser/Thr(Ac3GalNAc)-OH we used an easily scalable azidophenylselenylation of galactal instead of azidonitration. The problem of low yield when coupling glycoamino acids in small excess was solved by carrying out the reactions in 2-MeTHF instead of DMF and using DIC/Oxyma. Remarkably, quantitative coupling was achieved within 10 minutes using only 1.5 equivalents of glycoamino acid. The method does not require (microwave) heating, thus avoiding side reactions such as acetyl transfer to the N-terminal amino acid. This method also improved the difficult coupling of glycoamino acid to the hydrazine-resin and furnished peptides carrying 10 GalNAc units in high purities (>95%) of crude products. Combined with a one-pot method involving native chemical ligation at a glycoamino acid junction and superfast desulfurization, the method yielded highly pure MUC5AC glycopeptides comprising 10 octapeptide tandem repeats with 20 -O-linked GalNAc residues within a week.
Details of materials and procedures and characterisation data