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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

In-peptide amino acid racemization via inter-residue oxazoline intermediates during acidic hydrolysis

Broberg, Anders; Nord, Christina; Levenfors, Jolanta J.; Bjerketorp, Joakim; Guss, Bengt; Oberg, Bo


Isopedopeptins are antibiotic cyclic lipodepsipeptides containing the subsequence L-Thr-L-2,3-diaminopropanoic acid-D-Phe-L-Val/L-3-hydroxyvaline. Acidic hydrolysis of isopedopeptins in D2O showed the D-Phe residues to racemize extensively in peptides with L-3-hydroxyvaline but not in peptides with L-Val. Similarly, one Leu residue in pedopeptins, which are related peptides containing the subsequence Leu-2,3-diaminopropanoic acid-Leu-L-Val/L-3-hydroxyvaline, was found to racemize in peptides with L-3-hydroxyvaline. Model tetrapeptides, L-Ala-L-Phe-L-Val/3-hydroxyvaline-L-Ala, gave the corresponding results, i.e. racemization of L-Phe only when linked to a L-3-hydroxyvaline. We propose the racemization to proceed via an oxazoline intermediate involving Phe/Leu and the L-3-hydroxyvaline residues. The 3-hydroxyvaline residue may form a stable tertiary carbocation by loss of the sidechain hydroxyl group as water after protonation. Elimination of the Phe/Leu H-2 and ring-closure from the carbonyl oxygen onto the carbocation results in the suggested oxazoline intermediate. The reversed reaction leads to either retained or inversed configuration of Phe/Leu. Such racemization during acidic hydrolysis may occur whenever a 3-hydroxyvaline residue or any amino acid that can form a stable carbocation on the C-3, is present in a peptide. The proposed mechanism for racemization was supported by incorporation of O-18 in the 3-hydroxyvaline sidechain when the acidic hydrolysis was performed in H2O/(H2O)-O-18 (1:1). The 2,3-diaminopropanoic residues of isopedopeptins and pedopeptins were also found to racemize during acidic hydrolysis, as previously described. Based on the results, the configuration of the Leu and 2,3-diaminopropanoic acid residues of the pedopeptins were reassigned to be L-Leu and D-Leu, and 2 x L-2,3-diaminopropanoic acid.


Peptide hydrolysis; Racemization of amino acids; Oxazoline; 3-hydroxyvaline; Pedobacter cryoconitis

Published in

Amino Acids
2021, Volume: 53, number: 3, pages: 323-331