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Origins of Opposite Syn−Anti Diastereoselectivities in Primary and Secondary Amino Acid-Catalyzed Intermolecular Aldol Reactions Involving Unmodified α-Hydroxyketones

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journal contribution
posted on 18.07.2008, 00:00 by Aiping Fu, Hongliang Li, Shuping Yuan, Hongzong Si, Yunbo Duan
The effects of different amino acid catalysts on the stereoselectivity of the direct intermolecular aldol reactions between α-hydroxyketones and isobutyraldehyde or 4-nitrobenzaldehyde have been studied with the aid of density functional theory methods. The transition states of the crucial C−C bond-forming step with the enamine intermediate addition to the aldehyde for the proline and threonine-catalyzed asymmetric aldol reactions are reported. B3LYP/6-31+G** calculations provide a good explanation for the opposite syn vs anti diastereoselectivity of these two kinds of amino acid catalysts (anti-selectivity for the secondary cyclic amino acids proline, syn-selectivity for the acyclic primary amino acids like threonine). Calculated and observed diastereomeric ratio and enantiomeric excess values are in good agreement.