Proton Mediated Chemistry and Catalysis in a Self-Assembled Supramolecular Host

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Synthetic supramolecular host assemblies can impart unique reactivity to encapsulated guest molecules. Synthetic host molecules have been developed to carry out complex reactions within their cavities, despite the fact that they lack the type of specifically tailored functional groups normally located in the analogous active sites of enzymes. Over the past decade, the Raymond group has developed a series of self-assembled supramolecules and the Bergman group has developed and studied a number of catalytic transformations. In this Account, we detail recent collaborative work between these two groups, focusing on chemical catalysis stemming from the encapsulation of protonated guests and expanding ... continued below

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Pluth, Michael; Bergman, Robert & Raymond, Kenneth April 10, 2009.

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Synthetic supramolecular host assemblies can impart unique reactivity to encapsulated guest molecules. Synthetic host molecules have been developed to carry out complex reactions within their cavities, despite the fact that they lack the type of specifically tailored functional groups normally located in the analogous active sites of enzymes. Over the past decade, the Raymond group has developed a series of self-assembled supramolecules and the Bergman group has developed and studied a number of catalytic transformations. In this Account, we detail recent collaborative work between these two groups, focusing on chemical catalysis stemming from the encapsulation of protonated guests and expanding to acid catalysis in basic solution. We initially investigated the ability of a water-soluble, self-assembled supramolecular host molecule to encapsulate protonated guests in its hydrophobic core. Our study of encapsulated protonated amines revealed rich host-guest chemistry. We established that self-exchange (that is, in-out guest movement) rates of protonated amines were dependent on the steric bulk of the amine rather than its basicity. The host molecule has purely rotational tetrahedral (T) symmetry, so guests with geminal N-methyl groups (and their attendant mirror plane) were effectively desymmetrized; this allowed for the observation and quantification of the barriers for nitrogen inversion followed by bond rotation. Furthermore, small nitrogen heterocycles, such as N-alkylaziridines, N-alkylazetidines, and N-alkylpyrrolidines, were found to be encapsulated as proton-bound homodimers or homotrimers. We further investigated the thermodynamic stabilization of protonated amines, showing that encapsulation makes the amines more basic in the cavity. Encapsulation raises the effective basicity of protonated amines by up to 4.5 pK{sub a} units, a difference almost as large as that between the moderate and strong bases carbonate and hydroxide. The thermodynamic stabilization of protonated guests was translated into chemical catalysis by taking advantage of the potential for accelerating reactions that take place via positively charged transition states, which could be potentially stabilized by encapsulation. Orthoformates, generally stable in neutral or basic solution, were found to be suitable substrates for catalytic hydrolysis by the assembly. Orthoformates small enough to undergo encapsulation were readily hydrolyzed by the assembly in basic solution, with rate acceleration factors up to 3900 compared with those of the corresponding uncatalyzed reactions. Furthering the analogy to enzymes that obey Michaelis-Menten kinetics, we observed competitive inhibition with the inhibitor NPr{sub 4}{sup +}, thereby confirming that the interior cavity of the assembly was the active site for catalysis. Mechanistic studies revealed that the assembly is required for catalysis and that the rate-limiting step of the reaction involves proton transfer from hydronium to the encapsulated substrate. Encapsulation in the assembly changes the orthoformate hydrolysis from an A-1 mechanism (in which decomposition of the protonated substrate is the rate-limiting step) to an A-S{sub E}2 mechanism (in which proton transfer is the rate-limiting step). The study of hydrolysis in the assembly was next extended to acetals, which were also catalytically hydrolyzed by the assembly in basic solution. Acetal hydrolysis changed from the A-1 mechanism in solution to an A-2 mechanism inside the assembly, where attack of water on the protonated substrate is rate limiting. This work provides rare examples of assembly-catalyzed reactions that proceed with substantial rate accelerations despite the absence of functional groups in the cavity and with mechanisms fully elucidated by quantitative kinetic studies.

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  • Journal Name: Accounts of Chemical Research; Journal Volume: 42; Journal Issue: 10

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  • Report No.: LBNL-2473E
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • DOI: 10.1021/ar900118t | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 983088
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc1014314

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  • April 10, 2009

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  • Oct. 14, 2017, 8:36 a.m.

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  • Oct. 17, 2017, 6:58 p.m.

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Pluth, Michael; Bergman, Robert & Raymond, Kenneth. Proton Mediated Chemistry and Catalysis in a Self-Assembled Supramolecular Host, article, April 10, 2009; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1014314/: accessed September 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.