Disclosed herein is a new method for the solid phase peptide synthesis (SPPS) of C-terminal peptide .alpha. thioesters using Fmoc/t-Bu chemistry. This method is based on the use of an aryl hydrazine linker, which is totally stable to conditions required for Fmoc-SPPS. When the peptide synthesis has been completed, activation of the linker is achieved by mild oxidation. The oxidation step converts the acyl-hydrazine group into a highly reactive acyl-diazene intermediate which reacts with an .alpha.-amino acid alkylthioester (H-AA-SR) to yield the corresponding peptide .alpha.-thioester in good yield. A variety of peptide thioesters, cyclic peptides and a fully functional Src homology 3 (SH3) protein domain have been successfully prepared.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and The University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.