Quantifying Intermolecular Interactions in Asymmetric Peptide Organocatalysis as a Key Towards Understanding Selectivity

20 June 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


The kinetic resolution of trans-cyclohexane-1,2-diol with a lipophilic oligopeptide catalyst shows extraordinary selectivities. To improve our understanding of the factors governing selectivity, we quantified the Gibbs energies of interactions of the peptide with both enantiomers of trans-cyclohexane-1,2-diol using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. For this we use advanced methods such as transverse relaxation (R2), diffusion measurements, saturation transfer difference (STD), and chemical shift (δ) analysis of peptide-diol mixtures upon varying their composition (NMR titrations). The methods employed give comparable and consistent results: The molecular recognition by the catalyst is approx. 3 kJmol−1 in favor of the preferentially acetylated (R,R)-enantiomer in the temperature range studied. Interestingly, the difference of 3 kJ mol−1 is also confirmed by results from reaction monitoring of the acylation step under catalytic conditions, indicating that this finding is true regardless of whether the investigation is performed on the acetylated species or on the free catalyst. To arrive at these conclusions the self-association of both catalyst and substrate in toluene were found to play an important role and thus need to be taken into account in reaction screening.


peptide catalysis
NMR spectroscopy
intermolecular interactions

Supplementary weblinks


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