The Synthesis and Surface Studies of β-Amino Acids & β-Peptides
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis examines the synthesis of conformationally constrained β-amino acids and β- peptides, and the electron transfer properties of the latter when immobilised on gold. Additionally, cross metathesis on gold was investigated as a method for surface functionalisation. Chapter One introduces the concepts of electron transfer in nature, how it is facilitated by the secondary structure in α-peptides, and why β-peptides might be useful for studying electron transfer. This is followed by a discussion of the properties of β-peptides, including the enhanced stability and variety of helical secondary structures and the greater potential for functionalisation of the peptide backbone when compared to α-peptides. Finally, the conformational constraints of ring-systems on cyclic amino acids is discussed, with reference to the stabilising effect of these compounds on peptide secondary structures. Chapter Two describes the electrochemical analysis of β-hexapeptides immobilised on gold. The chapter is prefaced by a discussion of the important electron transfer mechanisms for peptides, the fabrication of peptide-gold self-assembled monolayer (SAM) interfaces, and the electron transfer in helical α-peptides. β-Peptides containing an electroactive ferrocene moeity were immobilised on gold and studied using cyclic voltammetry and chronoamperometry. The latter method was used to examine the dependence of the electron transfer rate on overpotential, thereby determining the likely mode of electron transfer through the β-peptides SSβ₆Fc, Fcβ₆SS and SC₁₅β₆Fc. These peptides exhibited very weak dependence on overpotential, characteristic of electron transfer behaviour of an electron hopping mechanism (which is also thought to occur in helical α-peptides). Both the dipole moment of the peptides and the structure of the sulfurlinker group were found to be important in determining the rate of electron transfer. Conversely, the equivalent α-peptide SSα₆Fc exhibited electron transfer behaviour characteristic of the less efficient tunnelling mechanism, which is thought to operate in strand-like peptides. Chapter Three examines the application of cross metathesis, using a Grubbs' second generation catalyst, as a means to functionalise olefin-terminated self-assembled monolayers on gold. Abstract iv Firstly, an introduction into the limited published research on cross metathesis on both planar surfaces and nanoparticles is given. Olefin-terminated thiol 3.18, suitable for immobilisation on gold, and solution phase olefin-terminated ferrocene 3.10 were synthesised as reactants for cross metathesis studies. An analytical methodology was developed involving the cross metathesis of surface-immobilised 3.18 with ferrocene 3.10 in dichloromethane, whereby the concentration of electroactive cross metathesis product 3.22 was monitored electrochemically as a function of time. The concentration of surface-immobilised product 3.22 was determined by integration of the oxidation peak area and found to be highly dependent on both the concentration of immobilised olefin reactant 3.18 and reaction time. Furthermore, the surface concentration of ferrocenyl model disulfide 3.21 and thiol 2.18 decayed markedly upon addition of Grubb's catalyst, as revealed by the decrease in the oxidation peak area, which suggested that catalystmediated desorption was occurring. Chapter Four details the solution-phase synthesis of ferrocene- and thiol-functionalised β- hexapeptides used in both the electron transfer studies described in chapter two, and in the determination of secondary structure using circular dichroism and NMR techniques. The synthesis of simple model compounds 4.14, 4.16 and 4.18 established the incompatibility of the deprotection of methyl and benzyl ester protecting groups with protected-thiol and disulfide linkers, leading to the use of N-hydroxysuccinmide-activated sulfur-linkers 4.20 and 4.22 in further synthesis. A number of β-hexapeptides were synthesised by amide coupling of β- tripeptides functionalised at the N- and C-termini. Structural studies of the methanol soluble β- hexapeptide 4.60 suggested that the covalent attachment of ferrocene moeity to the C-terminus of a β-peptide did not disrupt the formation of a 14-helix in solution. β-peptides containing functionality at both the C- and N-termini (such as SSβ₆Fc, SSβ₆Et and acetyl-protected SC₁₅β₆Fc) were not suitable for solution phase structural studies; however, molecular modelling suggested that helical conformations are the most stable these β-peptides in solution phase. Chapter Five outlines the synthesis of novel cyclic β-amino acids by two different general synthetic routes. The first uses an efficient conjugate addition/fluorination reaction of α,β- unsaturated esters with lithiated chiral secondary amines to prepare the novel cyclopentyl- and cyclohexyl-based fluorinated β-amino acids 2.43a and 2.43b. The high diastereoselectivity of this reaction, which introduces two stereocentres into the achiral unsaturated esters, is directed by the configuration of the attacking amine. The second methodology utilizes the versatile ringclosing metathesis reaction in the synthesis of novel cyclic β-amino acids. A stereoselective Abstract v trans-alkylation of olefinic β-amino acids gave the required β-dienes 5.62 and 5.77. Optimised cyclisation yields were achieved with a Grubb's 2nd generation catalyst for diene 5.62 and Grubb's 1st generation catalyst for diene 5.77, to give the trans-cycloheptyl- and cyclooctylbased β-amino acids 5.63 and 5.78, respectively. The attempted synthesis of cyclononyl-based β-amino acid 5.87 using both catalysts yielded only cyclic dimer products 5.88 and 5.89. The trans configuration of the 5.62 diene was confirmed by x-ray crystallography. Chapter Six is an experimental chapter and outlines the electrochemical setup and analysis, and the synthesis, purification and characterisation of compounds described in this thesis.