TFP vs. NHS Esters

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The N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS, also known as HOSu) esters of carboxylic acids are the most widely used reactive esters for modifying amine-containing peptides and proteins.1-4 NHS esters are notorious for having a short, pH-dependent half-life in aqueous media.5-7 A fluorophenyl ester (e.g., 2,3,5,6-tetrafluorophenol) is a different type of reactive ester that is formed similarly to an NHS ester.2,3 The reactive ester formed with carboxylic acid and 2,3,5,6-tetrafluorophenol is known as the TFP ester, and it is reported by Hermanson1, Lockett, et al.8, and Wilbur9, to be more stable in slightly basic, aqueous media than NHS esters. See Figure 1 for a comparison of NHS and TFP esters.


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