Asymmetric autocatalysis - Discovery and development

Kenso Soai*, Takanori Shibata, Itaru Sato

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The asymmetric autocatalysis is an enantioselective synthesis where the asymmetric catalyst and the product possess the same structure and the same absolute configuration. We disclosed chiral α-isopropyl-3-pyridinemethanols, α-isopropyl-5-pyrimidinemethanols, and α-isopropyl-3-quinolinemethanols operate as asymmetric autocatalysts in the enantioselective additions of i-Pr2Zn to 3-pyridinecarbaldehyde, 5-pyrimidinecarbaldehyde and 3-quinolinecarbaldehyde, respectively. Especially, practically perfect asymmetric autocatalysis (>99% yield and >99.5%e.e.) is attained by using 2-(3,3-dimethyl-1-butynyl)-α-isopropyl-5-pyrimidinernethanol as an asymmetric autocatalyst. Moreover, consecutive asymmetric autocatalytic reaction enables α-isopropyl-5-pyrimidine- and α-isopropyl-3-quinolinemethanols as well as 5-(1-hydroxy-2-methylpropyl)pyridine-3-carboxamides with extremely low e.e. to automultiply with dramatic amplification of e.e. without any assistance of other chiral auxiliaries. It was also found that various chiral compounds can operate as chiral initiators in the enantioselective addition of i-Pr2Zn to 5-pyrimidinecarbaldehydes and α-isopropyl-5-pyrimidinemethanols with high e.e. were obtained. For example, in the presence of L-leucine with 2%e.e., asymmetric autocatalysis affords an (R)-α-isopropyl-5-pyrimidinemethanol with high e.e. It is known that asymmetric degradation of racemic leucine using circularly polarized light (CPL) gives chiral leucine (ca. 2%e.e.). Thus, asymmetric autocatalysis with amplification of e.e. serves as a correlation between CPL and highly enantiomerically enriched organic molecules. Moreover, enantiomorphic inorganic crystals such as quartz (SiO2) and sodium chlorate (NaClO3) can be utilized as chiral initiators and an α-isopropyl-5-pyrimidinemethanols with high e.e. was obtained in high yields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-149
Number of pages9
JournalNippon Kagaku Kaishi / Chemical Society of Japan - Chemistry and Industrial Chemistry Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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