Mycobacterium tuberculosis produces dideoxymycobactin-838 (DDM-838), a lipopeptide that potently activates T cells upon binding to the MHC-like antigen-presenting molecule CD1a. M. tuberculosis produces DDM-838 in only trace amounts and a previous solid-phase synthesis provided sub-milligram quantities. We describe a high-yielding solution-phase synthesis of DDM-838 that features a Mitsunobu substitution that avoids yield-limiting epimerization at lysine during esterification, and amidation conditions that prevent double-bond isomerization of the Z-C20:1 acyl chain, and provides material with equivalent antigenicity to natural DDM-838. Isomers of DDM-838 that varied in stereochemistry at the central lysine and the C20:1 acyl chain were compared for their ability to be recognised by CD1a-restricted T cell receptors (TCRs). These TCRs, derived from unrelated human donors, exhibited a similar spectrum of reactivity towards the panel of DDM-838 isomers, highlighting the exquisite sensitivity of lipopeptide-reactive T cells for the natural DDM stereochemistry.
- natural products
- T cells