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Brønsted Acid-Catalyzed Intramolecular Nucleophilic Substitution of the Hydroxyl Group in Stereogenic Alcohols with Chirality Transfer

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posted on 15.04.2015, 00:00 by Anon Bunrit, Christian Dahlstrand, Sandra K. Olsson, Pemikar Srifa, Genping Huang, Andreas Orthaber, Per J. R. Sjöberg, Srijit Biswas, Fahmi Himo, Joseph S. M. Samec
The hydroxyl group of enantioenriched benzyl, propargyl, allyl, and alkyl alcohols has been intramolecularly displaced by uncharged O-, N-, and S-centered nucleophiles to yield enantioenriched tetrahydrofuran, pyrrolidine, and tetrahydrothiophene derivatives with phosphinic acid catalysis. The five-membered heterocyclic products are generated in good to excellent yields, with high degree of chirality transfer, and water as the only side-product. Racemization experiments show that phosphinic acid does not promote SN1 reactivity. Density functional theory calculations corroborate a reaction pathway where the phosphinic acid operates as a bifunctional catalyst in the intramolecular substitution reaction. In this mechanism, the acidic proton of the phosphinic acid protonates the hydroxyl group, enhancing the leaving group ability. Simultaneously, the oxo group of phosphinic acid operates as a base abstracting the nucleophilic proton and thus enhancing the nucleophilicity. This reaction will open up new atom efficient techniques that enable alcohols to be used as nucleofuges in substitution reactions in the future.