Rapid Peptide Cyclization Inspired by the Modular Logic of Nonribosomal Peptide Synthetases

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Nonribosomal cyclic peptides (NRcPs) are structurally complex natural products and a vital pool of therapeutics, particularly antibiotics. Their structural diversity arises from the ability of the multidomain enzyme assembly lines, nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs), to utilize bespoke nonproteinogenic amino acids, modify the linear peptide during elongation, and catalyze an array of cyclization modes, e.g., head to tail, side chain to tail. The study and drug development of NRcPs are often limited by a lack of easy synthetic access to NRcPs and their analogues, with selective macrolactamization being a major bottleneck. Herein, we report a generally applicable chemical macrocyclization method of unprecedented speed and selectivity. Inspired by biosynthetic cyclization, it combines the deprotected linear biosynthetic precursor peptide sequence with a highly reactive C-terminus to produce NRcPs and analogues in minutes. The method was applied to several NRcPs of varying sequences, ring sizes, and cyclization modes including rufomycin, colistin, and gramicidin S with comparable success. We thus demonstrate that the linear order of modules in NRPS enzymes that determines peptide sequence encodes the key structural information to produce peptides conformationally biased toward macrocyclization. To fully exploit this conformational bias synthetically, a highly reactive C-terminal acyl azide is also required, alongside carefully balanced pH and solvent conditions. This allows for consistent, facile cyclization of exceptional speed, selectivity, and atom efficiency. This exciting macrolactamization method represents a new enabling technology for the biosynthetic study of NRcPs and their development as therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Early online date6 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jun 2024


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