Studies on the synthesis and stability of α-ketoacyl peptides

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Oxidative stress, an excess of reactive oxygen species (ROS), may lead to oxidative post-translational modifications of proteins resulting in the cleavage of the peptide backbone, known as α-amidation, and formation of fragments such as peptide amides and α-ketoacyl peptides (α-KaP). In this study, we first compared different approaches for the synthesis of different model α-KaP and then investigated their stability compared to the corresponding unmodified peptides. The stability of peptides was studied at room temperature or at temperatures relevant for food processing (100 °C for cooking and 150 °C as a simulation of roasting) in water, in 1% (m/v) acetic acid or as the dry substance (to simulate the thermal treatment of dehydration processes) by HPLC analysis. Oxidation of peptides by 2,5-di-tert-butyl-1,4-benzoquinone (DTBBQ) proved to be the most suited method for synthesis of α-KaPs. The acyl side chain of the carbonyl-terminal α-keto acid has a crucial impact on the stability of α-KaPs. This carbonyl group has a catalytic effect on the hydrolysis of the neighboring peptide bond, leading to the release of α-keto acids. Unmodified peptides were significantly more stable than the corresponding α-KaPs. The possibility of further degradation reactions was shown by the formation of Schiff bases from glyoxylic or pyruvic acids with glycine and proven through detection of transamination products and Strecker aldehydes of α-keto acids by HPLC–MS/MS. We propose here a mechanism for the decomposition of α-ketoacyl peptides.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1425-1438
Number of pages14
JournalAmino acids
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

External IDs

PubMed 33057940
ORCID /0000-0001-8528-6893/work/142256521



  • Backbone cleavage, Ketoacyl peptide, Protein oxidation, Schiff base, Transamination