Noncovalent interactions play an essential role in biological and chemical processes. In the main chain of common protein secondary structures, the lone pair (n) of a carbonyl oxygen is delocalized into the antibonding orbital (π*) of the subsequent carbonyl group. Herein, experimental and computational data reveal that this n→π* interaction can be attenuated by the inductive electron withdrawal of one or two α-fluoro groups in the donor. The steric effect of three α-fluoro groups, however, overcomes the inductive withdrawal. These data evoke a means to modulate the n→π* interaction in peptides, proteins, and other systems.
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