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  1. The ligation of sterically demanding peptidyl sites such as those involving Val–Val and Val–Pro linkages has proven to be extremely challenging with conventional NCL methods that rely on exogenous thiol additives. Herein, we report an efficient β-thiolactone-mediated additive-free NCL protocol that enables the establishment of these connections in good yield. The rapid NCL was followed by in situ desulfurization. Reaction rates between β-thiolactones and conventional thioesters towards NCL were also investigated, and direct aminolysis was ruled out as a possible pathway. Finally, the potent cytotoxic cyclic-peptide axinastatin 1 has been prepared using the developed methodology. 
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  2. Peptidyl thioesters or their surrogates with C-terminal β-branched hydrophobic amino acid residues usually exhibit poor reactivities in ligation reactions. Thus, activation using exogenous additives is required to ensure an acceptable reaction efficiency. Herein, we report a traceless ligation at Val-Xaa sites under mild thiol additive-free reaction conditions, whereby the introduction of β-mercaptan on the C-terminal valine residue effectively activates the otherwise unreactive N -acyl-benzimidazolinone (Nbz), and enables the use of a one-pot ligation–desulfurization strategy to generate the desired peptide products. The orthogonality between β-thiovaline-Nbz and a conventional alkyl thioester, as well as the convenient access to the former from readily available penicillamine, also allowed expedited assembly of the peptidic hormone β-LPH and hPTH analogues, based on a kinetically controlled one-pot three-segment ligation and desulfurization strategy. 
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