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Air- and moisture-stable amphoteric molecules: enabling reagents in synthesis.

  • He, Zhi1
  • Zajdlik, Adam
  • Yudin, Andrei K
  • 1 Davenport Research Laboratories, Department of Chemistry, University of Toronto , 80 St. George Street, Toronto M5S 3H6, Canada. , (Canada)
Published Article
Accounts of Chemical Research
American Chemical Society
Publication Date
Apr 15, 2014
DOI: 10.1021/ar400210c
PMID: 24495255


Researchers continue to develop chemoselective synthesis strategies with the goal of rapidly assembling complex molecules. As one appealing approach, chemists are searching for new building blocks that include multiple functional groups with orthogonal chemical reactivity. Amphoteric molecules that possess nucleophilic and electrophilic sites offer a versatile platform for the development of chemoselective transformations. As part of a program focused on new methods of synthesis, we have been developing this type of reagents. This Account highlights examples of amphoteric molecules developed by our lab since 2006. We have prepared and evaluated aziridine aldehydes, a class of stable unprotected α-amino aldehydes. Structurally, aziridine aldehydes include both a nucleophilic amine nitrogen and an electrophilic aldehyde carbon over the span of three atoms. Under ambient conditions, these compounds exist as homochiral dimers with an aziridine-fused five-membered cyclic hemiaminal structure. We have investigated chemoselective reactions of aziridine aldehydes that involve both the aziridine and aldehyde functionalities. These transformations have produced a variety of densely functionalized nitrogen-containing compounds, including amino aldehydes, 1,2-diamines, reduced hydantoins, C-vinyl or alkynyl aziridines, and macrocyclic peptides. We have also developed air- and moisture-stable α-boryl aldehydes, another class of molecules that are kinetically amphoteric. The α-boryl aldehydes contain a tetracoordinated N-methyliminodiacetyl (MIDA) boryl substituent, which stabilizes the α-metalloid carbonyl system and prevents isomerization to its O-bond enolate form. Primarily taking advantage of chemoselective transformations at the aldehyde functionality, these α-boryl aldehydes have allowed us to synthesize a series of new functionalized boron-containing compounds that are difficult or impossible to prepare using established protocols, such as α-borylcarboxylic acids, boryl alcohols, enol ethers, and enamides. Using α-borylcarboxylic acids as starting materials, we have also prepared several new amphoteric borylated reagents, such as α-boryl isocyanates, isocyanides, and acylboronates. These compounds are versatile building blocks in their own right, enabling the rapid synthesis of other boron-containing molecules.

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