Subclass-Specific Labeling of Protein-Reactive Natural Products with Customized Nucleophilic Probes

Chemistry - A European Journal, 2015, 21 (9), 3701–3707


Natural products represent a rich source of bioactive compounds that constitute a large fraction of approved drugs. Among those are molecules with electrophilic scaffolds, such as Michael acceptors, β-lactams, and epoxides that irreversibly inhibit essential enzymes based on their catalytic mechanism. In the search for novel bioactive molecules, current methods are challenged by the frequent rediscovery of known chemical entities. Herein small nucleophilic probes that attack electrophilic natural products and enhance their detection by HPLC-UV and HPLC-MS are introduced. A screen of diverse probe designs revealed one compound with a desired selectivity for epoxide- and maleimide-based antibiotics. Correspondingly, the natural products showdomycin and phosphomycin could be selectively targeted in extracts of their natural producing organism, in which the probe-modified molecules exhibited superior retention and MS detection relative to their unmodified counterparts. This method may thus help to discover small, electrophilic molecules that might otherwise easily elude detection in complex samples.

TU München