Umpolung strategies for the functionalization of peptides and proteins
Umpolung strategies, defined as synthetic approaches which reverse commonly accepted reactivity patterns, are broadly recognized as enabling tools for small molecule synthesis and catalysis. However, methods which exploit this logic for peptide and protein functionalizations are comparatively rare, with the overwhelming majority of existing bioconjugation approaches relying on the well-established reactivity profiles of a handful of amino acids. This perspective serves to highlight a small but growing body of recent work that masterfully capitalizes on the concept of polarity reversal for the selective modification of proteinogenic functionalities. Current applications of umpolung chemistry in organic synthesis and chemical biology as well as the vast potential for further innovations in peptide and protein modification will be discussed.