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Dynamic Kinetic Resolution via Dual-Function Catalysis of Modified Cinchona Alkaloids:  Asymmetric Synthesis of α-Hydroxy Carboxylic Acids

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journal contribution
posted on 05.03.2002, 00:00 by Liang Tang, Li Deng
A highly enantioselective catalytic transformation of racemic α-hydroxy acids to optically active α-hydroxy acids is reported. A new procedure was developed for the condensation of racemic α-hydroxy acids with trichloromethyl chloroformate (diphosgene) at room temperature in the presence of activated charcoal to form 5-substituted-1,3-dioxolane-2,4-diones in 90−100% yield. An efficient dynamic kinetic resolution of 5-aryl dioxolanediones was realized via a modified cinchona alkaloid-catalyzed alcoholytic opening of the dioxolanedione ring, generating a variety of optically active α-hydroxy esters in 91−96% ee and 61−85% chemical yield. In this dynamic kinetic resolution, the modified cinchona alkaloid was found to serve dual catalytic roles, mediating both the rapid racemization of the 5-aryl dioxolanediones and the enantioselective alcoholytic ring opening of the 5-aryl dioxolanediones. Consequently, both enantiomers of the 5-aryl dioxolanediones were converted to highly enantiomerically enriched aromatic α-hydroxy esters in yields (61−85%), far exceeding the maximum of 50% for a normal kinetic resolution. This development not only represents an expansion of the scope of asymmetric acyl-transfer catalysis of synthetic catalysts but also provides a new approach for the development of efficient chemical dynamic kinetic resolutions promoted by a single catalyst. 5-Alkyl dioxolanediones were resolved by a conventional but highly enantioselective kinetic resolution to provide α-hydroxy acids and esters in high optical purity and good yields.