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Ambident Reactivities of Pyridone Anions

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posted on 03.11.2010 by Martin Breugst, Herbert Mayr
The kinetics of the reactions of the ambident 2- and 4-pyridone anions with benzhydrylium ions (diarylcarbenium ions) and structurally related Michael acceptors have been studied in DMSO, CH3CN, and water. No significant changes of the rate constants were found when the counterion was varied (Li+, K+, NBu4+) or the solvent was changed from DMSO to CH3CN, whereas a large decrease of nucleophilicity was observed in aqueous solution. The second-order rate constants (log k2) correlated linearly with the electrophilicity parameters E of the electrophiles according to the correlation log k2 = s(N + E) (Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. Engl. 1994, 33, 938−957), allowing us to determine the nucleophilicity parameters N and s for the pyridone anions. The reactions of the 2- and 4-pyridone anions with stabilized amino-substituted benzhydrylium ions and Michael acceptors are reversible and yield the thermodynamically more stable N-substituted pyridones exclusively. In contrast, highly reactive benzhydrylium ions (4,4′-dimethylbenzhydrylium ion), which react with diffusion control, give mixtures arising from N- and O-attack with the 2-pyridone anion and only O-substituted products with the 4-pyridone anion. For some reactions, rate and equilibrium constants were determined in DMSO, which showed that the 2-pyridone anion is a 2−4 times stronger nucleophile, but a 100 times stronger Lewis base than the 4-pyridone anion. Quantum chemical calculations at MP2/6-311+G(2d,p) level of theory showed that N-attack is thermodynamically favored over O-attack, but the attack at oxygen is intrinsically favored. Marcus theory was employed to develop a consistent scheme which rationalizes the manifold of regioselectivities previously reported for the reactions of these anions with electrophiles. In particular, Kornblum’s rationalization of the silver ion effect, one of the main pillars of the hard and soft acid/base concept of ambident reactivity, has been revised. Ag+ does not reverse the regioselectivity of the attack at the 2-pyridone anion by increasing the positive charge of the electrophile but by blocking the nitrogen atom of the 2-pyridone anion.