Theoretical studies of stereoselectivities of intramolecular aldol cyclizations catalyzed by amino acids.

Journal of the American Chemical Society

PubMedID: 16089458

Clemente FR, Houk KN. Theoretical studies of stereoselectivities of intramolecular aldol cyclizations catalyzed by amino acids. J Am Chem Soc. 2005;127(32):11294-302.
The effects of different amino acid catalysts and substrate substituents on the stereoselectivity of the title reactions have been studied with the aid of density functional theory methods. Experimental data available in the literature have been compiled. B3LYP/6-31G(d) calculations match the general experimental trends and provide useful insights into the origins of the variations in stereoselectivities. Acyclic primary amino acids allow a greater conformational flexibility in the aldol transition states compared with proline. This makes them poorer enantioselective catalysts with triketone substrates with a methyl ketone side chain. The steric repulsion upon substitution at the terminal methyl group increases the energy difference between anti- and syn-chairs with primary amino acid catalysts and, consequently, the stereoselectivities. Proline, in contrast, is a poor catalyst for the latter reactions because the substituent's steric bulkiness raises the activation energy of the favored C-C bond-forming pathway.