Click chemistry

Click chemistry

Click chemistry is a chemical philosophy introduced by K. Barry Sharpless of The Scripps Research Institute, in 2001[1][2] and describes chemistry tailored to generate substances quickly and reliably by joining small units together. This is inspired by the fact that nature also generates substances by joining small modular units.

Click chemistry is not a specific reaction; it is a concept that mimicks nature.

The reactions in Click chemistry must (or would be desirable):

  • be modular
  • be wide in scope
  • give very high chemical yields
  • generate only inoffensive byproducts
  • be stereospecific
  • be physiologically stable
  • exhibit a large thermodynamic driving force > 84 kJ/mol to favor a reaction with a single reaction product. A distinct exothermic reaction makes a reactant "spring-loaded".
  • have high atom economy.

The process must (or would be desirable):

  • have simple reaction conditions
  • use readily available starting materials and reagents
  • use no solvent or use a solvent that is benign or easily removed (preferably water)
  • provide simple product isolation by non-chromatographic methods (crystallisation or distillation)



In biological systems and biochemistry, proteins are made from repeating amino acid units and sugars are made from repeating monosaccharide units. The connecting units are based on carbon - hetero atom bonds C-X-C rather than carbon - carbon bonds. In addition, enzymes ensure that chemical processes can overcome large enthalpy hurdles by a series of reactions each requiring only a small energy step. Mimicking nature in organic synthesis is essential in the discovery of new pharmaceuticals given the large number of possible structures.

In 1996, Guida calculated the size of the pool of drug candidates at 1063, based on the presumption that a candidate consists of less than 30 non-hydrogen atoms, weighs less than 500 daltons, is made up of atoms of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine and bromine, and is stable at room temperature and stable towards oxygen and water.[3] Click chemistry in combination with combinatorial chemistry, high-throughput screening and building chemical libraries speeds up new drug discoveries by making each reaction in a multistep synthesis fast, efficient and predictable.

Many of the Click chemistry criteria are subjective; and even if measurable and objective criteria could be agreed upon, it's unlikely that any reaction will be perfect for every situation and application. However, several reactions have been identified which fit the concept better than others:

Azide alkyne Huisgen cycloaddition

One of the most popular reactions within the click chemistry concept is the azide alkyne Huisgen cycloaddition using a Copper (Cu) catalyst at room temperature. It was discovered concurrently and independently by the groups of Valery V. Fokin and K. Barry Sharpless at the Scripps Research Institute in California[8] and Morten Meldal in Carlsberg Laboratory, Denmark.[9] Although the Cu(I)-catalyzed variant was first reported by Meldal and co-workers for the synthesis of peptidotriazoles on solid support, these authors did not recognize the potential of the reaction and did not make a connection with the click chemistry concept. Fokin and Sharpless independently described it as a reliable catalytic process offering "an unprecedented level of selectivity, reliability, and scope for those organic synthesis endeavors which depend on the creation of covalent links between diverse building blocks", firmly placing it among the most reliable processes fitting the click criteria.

Copper and ruthenium are the commonly used catalysts in the reaction. The use of copper as a catalyst results in the formation of 1,4-regioisomer whereas ruthenium results in formation of the 1,5- regioisomer. [10] A disadvantage of the Cu catalysed click reaction is that it does not work on internal alkynes. A mechanism for this reaction was originally proposed based on theoretical calculations.[11]


Click chemistry has widespread applications. Some of them are:

  • preparative organic synthesis of 1,4-substituted triazoles
  • modification of peptide function with triazoles
  • modification of natural products and pharmaceuticals
  • drug discovery
  • macrocyclizations using Cu(I) catalyzed triazole couplings
  • modification of DNA and nucleotides by triazole ligation
  • supramolecular chemistry: calixarenes, rotaxanes, and catenanes
  • dendrimer design
  • carbohydrate clusters and carbohydrate conjugation by Cu(1) catalyzed triazole ligation reactions
  • polymers
  • material science
  • nanotechnology,[12] and
  • Bioconjugation, for example, azidocoumarin.

Click chemistry also has been used for selectively labeling biomolecules within biological system. A click reaction that is to be performed in a living system needs to meet an even more rigorous set of criteria; it must be bioorthogonal, meaning the reagents used may not interact with the biological system in any way, nor may they be toxic. The reaction must also be carried out at neutral pH and at or around body temperature. Most click reactions have a high energy content which make the reactions irreversible and involve carbon-hetero atom bonding processes. An example of this is the Staudinger ligation of azides.

Technology License

On July 15, 2010, it was announced that The Scripps Research Institute signed a license agreement with Allozyne, a privately held, Seattle based biotechnology company. The agreement with The Scripps Research Institute provides Allozyne with a license to apply Click chemistry for exclusive development in key therapeutic fields in addition to a non-exclusive license for diagnostic applications.


  1. ^ H. C. Kolb, M. G. Finn and K. B. Sharpless (2001). "Click Chemistry: Diverse Chemical Function from a Few Good Reactions". Angewandte Chemie International Edition 40 (11): 2004–2021. doi:10.1002/1521-3773(20010601)40:11<2004::AID-ANIE2004>3.0.CO;2-5. PMID 11433435. 
  2. ^ R. A. Evans (2007). "The Rise of Azide–Alkyne 1,3-Dipolar 'Click' Cycloaddition and its Application to Polymer Science and Surface Modification". Australian Journal of Chemistry 60 (6): 384–395. doi:10.1071/CH06457. 
  3. ^ W.C. Guida et al. Med. Res. Rev. p 3 1996
  4. ^ Spiteri, Christian and Moses, John E. (2010). "Copper-Catalyzed Azide–Alkyne Cycloaddition: Regioselective Synthesis of 1,4,5-Trisubstituted 1,2,3-Triazoles". Angewandte Chemie International Edition 49 (1): 31–33. doi:10.1002/anie.200905322. 
  5. ^ Hoyle, Charles E. and Bowman, Christopher N. (2010). "Thiol–Ene Click Chemistry". Angewandte Chemie International Edition 49 (9): 1540–1573. doi:10.1002/anie.200903924. 
  6. ^ Blackman, Melissa L. and Royzen, Maksim and Fox, Joseph M. (2008). "Tetrazine Ligation: Fast Bioconjugation Based on Inverse-Electron-Demand Diels−Alder Reactivity". Journal of the American Chemical Society 130 (41): 13518–13519. doi:10.1021/ja8053805. 
  7. ^ Stöckmann, Henning; Neves, Andre; Stairs, Shaun; Brindle, Kevin; Leeper, Finian (2011). "Exploring isonitrile-based click chemistry for ligation with biomolecules". Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry. doi:10.1039/C1OB06424J. 
  8. ^ Rostovtsev, Vsevolod V.; Green, Luke G; Fokin, Valery V.; Sharpless, K. Barry (2002). "A Stepwise Huisgen Cycloaddition Process: Copper(I)-Catalyzed Regioselective “Ligation” of Azides and Terminal Alkynes". Angewandte Chemie International Edition 41 (14): 2596–2599. doi:10.1002/1521-3773(20020715)41:14<2596::aid-anie2596>;2-4. 
  9. ^ Tornoe, C. W.; Christensen, C.; Meldal, M. (2002). "Peptidotriazoles on Solid Phase: [1,2,3]-Triazoles by Regiospecific Copper(I)-Catalyzed 1,3-Dipolar Cycloadditions of Terminal Alkynes to Azides". Journal of Organic Chemistry 67 (9): 3057–3064. doi:10.1021/JO011148J. PMID 11975567. 
  10. ^ Boren, Brant C.; Narayan, Sridhar; Rasmussen, Lars K.; Zhang, Li; Zhao, Haitao; Lin, Zhenyang; Jia, Guochen; Fokin, Valery V. (2008). "Ruthenium-Catalyzed Azide−Alkyne Cycloaddition: Scope and Mechanism". Journal of the American Chemical Society 130 (28): 8923–8930. doi:10.1021/ja0749993. PMID 18570425. 
  11. ^ F. Himo, T. Lovell, R. Hilgraf, V.V. Rostovtsev, L. Noodleman, K.B. Sharpless, V.V. Fokin (2005). "Copper(I)-Catalyzed Synthesis of Azoles, DFT Study Predicts Unprecedented Reactivity and Intermediates". Journal of the American Chemical Society 127: 210–216. doi:10.1021/ja0471525. 
  12. ^ John E. Moses and Adam D. Moorhouse (2007). "The growing applications of click chemistry". Chem. Soc. Rev. 36 (36): 1249–1262. doi:10.1039/b613014n. PMID 17619685. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • click chemistry — noun A philosophy of chemistry in which substances are generated quickly and reliably by joining small modular units together, as in nature …   Wiktionary

  • Copper-free click chemistry — is a bioorthogonal reaction first developed by Carolyn Bertozzi as an activated variant of an azide alkyne Huisgen cycloaddition, based on the work by Sharpless et. al. Unlike the CuAAC, Cu free click chemistry has been modified to be… …   Wikipedia

  • Chemistry education — (or chemical education) is a comprehensive term that refers to the study of the teaching and learning of chemistry in all schools, colleges and universities. Topics in chemistry education might include understanding how students learn chemistry,… …   Wikipedia

  • Click — Contents 1 Computing 2 Film and television 3 Print 4 Radio …   Wikipedia

  • Chemistry — For other uses, see Chemistry (disambiguation). Chemistry is the science of atomic matter (that made of chemical elements), its properties, structure, comp …   Wikipedia

  • Click-Chemie — Das Konzept der Click Chemie wurde 2001 von K. Barry Sharpless begründet und beschreibt eine Möglichkeit, schneller und zielgerichteter Zielmoleküle aus kleineren Einheiten zu synthetisieren, als dies die Natur durchführt. Erklärung In der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Click-to-donate site — A click to donate site is a website where users can click a button to generate a donation for a charity or cause. The money for the donation comes from advertisers whose banners are displayed each time a user clicks the button. While not directly …   Wikipedia

  • Analytical chemistry — For the journal, see Analytical Chemistry (journal). Analytical chemistry is the study of the separation, identification, and quantification of the chemical components of natural and artificial materials.[1] Qualitative analysis gives an… …   Wikipedia

  • Computational chemistry — is a branch of chemistry that uses principles of computer science to assist in solving chemical problems. It uses the results of theoretical chemistry, incorporated into efficient computer programs, to calculate the structures and properties of… …   Wikipedia

  • Inorganic chemistry — For the journal, see Inorganic Chemistry (journal). Inorganic compounds show rich variety: A: Diborane features unusual bonding B: Caesium chloride has an archetypal crystal structure C: Fp2 is an organometallic complex D …   Wikipedia