Cooperative Asymmetric Cation-Binding Catalysis

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  • Amol P. Jadhav
  • Sang Yeon Park
  • Lee, Jiwoong
  • Hailong Yan
  • Choong Eui Song

ConspectusAsymmetric cation-binding catalysis in principle enables the use of (alkali) metal salts, otherwise insoluble in organic solvents, as reagents and effectors in enantioselective reactions. However, this concept has been a formidable challenge due to the difficulties associated with creating a highly organized chiral environment for cations and anions simultaneously. Over the last four decades, various chiral crown ethers have been developed as cation-binding phase-transfer catalysts and examined in asymmetric catalysis. However, the limited ability of chiral crown ethers to generate soluble reactive anions in a confined chiral cage offers a restricted reaction scope and unsatisfactory chirality induction. To address the constraints of monofunctional chiral crown ethers as cation-binding catalysts, it is therefore desirable to develop a cooperative cation-binding catalyst possessing secondary binding sites for anions, which enables the generation of a reactive anion within a chiral cage of a catalyst. This account summarizes our design, development, and applications of chiral BINOL-based oligoethylene glycols (oligoEGs) as a new type of bifunctional cation-binding catalyst. We initially found that achiral oligoEGs were efficient promoters in nucleophilic fluorination with potassium fluoride. Thereby, we hypothesized that, by breaking the closed cyclic ether unit of chiral crown ethers, the free terminal -OH groups could activate the electrophiles by hydrogen bonding whereas the ether oxygens could act as the Lewis base to coordinate metal ions, thus generating soluble anions in a confined chiral cage. This hypothesis was realized by synthesizing a series of chiral variants of oligoEGs by connecting two 3,3′-disubstituted-BINOL units with glycol linkers. Readily available BINOL-based chiral oligoEGs enabled numerous asymmetric transformations out of the reach of chiral monofunctional crown ether catalysts. We have demonstrated that this new type of bifunctional cation-binding catalysts can generate a soluble fluoride anion from alkali metal fluorides, which can be a versatile chiral promoter for diverse asymmetric catalytic reactions, kinetic resolution (selectivity factor of up to μ2300), asymmetric protonation, Mannich reactions, tandem cyclization reactions, and the isomerization of allylic alcohols and hemithioacetals. We have also successfully utilized our chiral oligoEG catalysts along with alkali metal salts of carbon- and heteroatom-based nucleophiles, respectively, for asymmetric Strecker reactions and the asymmetric synthesis of chiral aminals. The power of our cooperative cation-binding catalysis was exemplified by kinetic resolution reactions of secondary alcohols, achieving highly enantioselective catalysis with only <1 ppm loading of an organocatalyst with high TOFs (up to μ1300 h-1 at 1 ppm catalyst loading). The broadness and generality of our cooperative asymmetric cation-binding catalysis can be ascribed, in a similar fashion, to active-site architectures of enzymes using allosteric interactions, highly confined chiral cages formed by the incorporation of alkali metal salts in the catalyst polyether chain backbone, and the cooperative activation of reacting partners by hydrogen-bonding and ion-ion interactions. Confining reactive components in such a chiral binding pocket leads to enhanced reactivity and efficient transfer of the stereochemical information.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Issue number23
Pages (from-to)4319–4333
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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© 2021 American Chemical Society.

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