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Cross-metathesis (CM) has recently emerged as a viable strategy for protein modification. Here, efficient protein CM has been demonstrated through biomimetic chemical access to Se-allyl-selenocysteine (Seac), a metathesis-reactive amino acid substrate, via dehydroalanine. On-protein reaction kinetics reveal a rapid reaction with rate constants of Seac-mediated-CM comparable or superior to off-protein rates of many current bioconjugations. This use of Se-relayed Seac CM on proteins has now enabled reactions with substrates (allyl GlcNAc, N-allyl acetamide) that were previously not possible for the corresponding sulfur analogue. This CM strategy was applied to histone proteins to install a mimic of acetylated lysine (KAc, an epigenetic marker). The resulting synthetic H3 was successfully recognized by antibody that binds natural H3-K9Ac. Moreover, Cope-type selenoxide elimination allowed this putative marker (and function) to be chemically expunged, regenerating an H3 that can be rewritten to complete a chemically enabled "write (CM)-erase (ox)-rewrite (CM)" cycle.

Original publication




Journal article


J Am Chem Soc

Publication Date





12156 - 12159


Alkenes, Kinetics, Models, Molecular, Protein Conformation, Protein Processing, Post-Translational, Proteins, Selenium, Selenocysteine