9-Fluorenylmethoxycarbonyl (Fmoc) amino acids were first used for solid phase custom peptide synthesis a little more than a decade ago. Since that time, Fmoc solid phase peptide synthesis methodology has been greatly enhanced by the introduction of a variety of solid supports, linkages, and side chain protecting groups, as well as by increased understanding of solvation conditions. These advances have led to many impressive syntheses, such as those of biologically active and isotopically labeled peptides and small proteins. The great variety of conditions under which Fmoc solid phase custom peptide synthesis may be carried out represents a truly "orthogonal" scheme, and thus offers many unique opportunities for bioorganic chemistry.
The 9-fluorenylmethyloxycarbonyl group was rapidly and quantitatively cleaved by 55% piperidine in dimethylformamide and monitored (u.v.) manually. For a kinetic study, a centrifugal reactor with a photometric control system and reference cell was used at each stage. The symmetrical anhydride coupling reaction was rapid and either acetic anhydride or fluorescamine termination was incorporated to minimize formation of deletion peptides.
Anchor-bond cleavage was effected with trifluoroacetic acid which simultaneously removed all the acid labile tert.-butyl side chain protecting groups. N alpha-9-fluorenylmethyloxycarbonyl peptides may be obtained by omitting the piperidine deprotection step after the last cycle of synthesis. From several syntheses, analytically pure di-S-protected somatostatin 14-peptide was obtained in 55-60% overall yield. The S-protecting groups were removed and the product was purified by gel filtration to give homogeneous dihydrosomatostatin (91%) yield. Oxidation of dihydrosomatostatin with potassium ferricyanide and purification by countercurrent distribution provided analytically pure homogeneous somatostatin.