Molecule of the Day

Making biomolecules is tricky – getting a reasonable quantity of whatever DNA or protein you’re after can take what seems like heroic efforts. You’re made acutely aware of the fact that the humblest bacterium does this without breaking a sweat. Protecting and activating groups are needed, like DMT and phosphoramidites for DNA.


Dicyclohexylcarbodiimide is an activator used in making peptides.


  1. #1 milkshake
    December 16, 2007

    DCC does not smell much, its odor is like cheap floral perfume agent used in bad soap and detergent.

    The real problem with DCC is that it is a potent allergy inducer. This is quite unpredicatable, and happens only after repeated exposure – but sensitised individuals can develop a nasty rash and swollen throat as soon as somebody opens a DCC bottle in a lab across the hall.

    What also does not help is that DCC comes as a soft but brittle low-melting rosin-like solid. Companies like to bottle the stuff by casting molten DCC into bottles. Which means that users have to dig out manageable chunks of the reagent from the solidified puck of DCC in a bottle. This digging process always causes bits and pieces fly out all over the place.

    I always urge people to wear gloves and do the DCC digging in the hood. There is also a DCC-digging technique that minimises the spill (you push a broad sharp spatula by applying a constant pressure, into DCC, then you slowly break of a chunk by wiggling/twisting the spatula)

  2. #2 Molecule of the Day
    December 16, 2007

    I was just alluding to peptide synthesizers smelling in general.

    Oh, and it melts at 34C, why not just pipet the stuff?

  3. #3 The OC
    December 16, 2007

    I usually melt the stuff when I use it. The worst part is getting rid of the subsequent urea when you’re done!!!

    Hence, I stay away. EDC for me! ><

  4. #4 Macnerdzcare
    December 17, 2007

    the odor of DCC is pretty much annoying to me anyway

  5. #5 Bunsen Honeydew
    December 17, 2007

    I prefer DIC (diisopropyl carbodiimide). It’s a liquid so it’s much more easily handled and the urea byproduct after coupling is more readily removed. Dicyclohexyl urea is notoriously awful to get rid of.

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