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Charge Tags for Most Comprehensive ESI-MS Monitoring of Morita–Baylis–Hillman (MBH)/aza-MBH Reactions: Solid Mechanistic View and the Dualistic Role of the Charge Tagged Acrylate

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journal contribution
posted on 04.02.2016, 15:55 by Renan Galaverna, Nilton S. Camilo, Marla N. Godoi, Fernando Coelho, Marcos N. Eberlin
Neutral and charge tagged reagents were used to investigate the mechanism of the classical Morita–Baylis–Hillman (MBH) reaction as well as its aza-version using mass spectrometry with electrospray ionization (ESI-MS). The use of an acrylate (activated alkene) with a methylimidazolium ion as a charge tag eliminates the requirement for adding acids as ESI­(+) additives, which are normally used to favor protonation and therefore detection of reaction partners (reagents, intermediates, and products) by ESI­(+)-MS. For both charge tagged reactions (MBH/aza-MBH), most reactants, intermediates, and the final adducts were efficiently detected in the form of abundant doubly and singly charged ions. Characterization of the reactions partners was performed via both tandem mass spectrometry (ESI­(+)-MS/MS) and accurate m/z measurements. The charge tagged reactions also showed faster conversion rates when compare to the neutral reaction, indicating a dualistic role for the charge tagged acrylate. It acts as both the reagent and a cocatalyst due to the inherent ionic-coordination nature of the methylimidazolium ion, which stabilizes the zwitterionic intermediates and reagents through different types of coordination ion pairs. Hemiacetal intermediates for the rate-limiting proton transfer step were also intercepted and characterized for both classical and aza-MBH charge tagged reactions.