Chiral amines are widely used as catalysts in asymmetric synthesis to activate carbonyl groups for α-functionalization. Carbonyl catalysis reverses that strategy by using a carbonyl group to activate a primary amine. Inspired by biological carbonyl catalysis, which is exemplified by reactions of pyridoxal-dependent enzymes, we developed an N-quaternized pyridoxal catalyst for the asymmetric Mannich reaction of glycinate with aryl N -diphenylphosphinyl imines. The catalyst exhibits high activity and stereoselectivity, likely enabled by enzyme-like cooperative bifunctional activation of the substrates. Our work demonstrates the catalytic utility of the pyridoxal moiety in asymmetric catalysis.
Chemistry and Pharmacology
Natural Sciences in General