Photocatalytic Late-stage Functionalization of Dehydroalanine-derived Peptides in Batch and Flow

14 February 2024, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Unnatural amino acids, and their synthesis via the late-stage functionalization (LSF) of peptides, play a crucial role in areas such as drug design and discovery. Historically, the LSF of biomolecules has predominantly utilized traditional synthetic methodologies that exploit nucleophilic residues, such as cysteine, lysine or tyrosine. In this study, we present a photocatalytic hydroarylation process targeting the electrophilic residue dehydroalanine (Dha). This residue possesses an α,β-unsaturated moiety and can be combined with various arylthianthrenium salts, both in batch and flow reactors. Notably, the flow setup proved instrumental for efficient scale-up, paving the way for the synthesis of unnatural amino acids and peptides in substantial quantities. Our photocatalytic approach, being inherently mild, permits the diversification of peptides even when they contain sensitive functional groups. The readily available arylthianthrenium salts facilitate the seamless integration of Dha-infused peptides with a wide range of arenes, drug blueprints, and natural products, culminating in the creation of unconventional phenylalanine derivatives. The synergistic effect of the high functional group tolerance and the modular characteristic of the aryl electrophile enables efficient peptide conjugation and ligation in both batch and flow conditions.


late-stage diversification
flow chemistry
unnatural amino acids

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
experimental procedures, additional experiments, compound characterization, spectroscopic analysis


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