Thiourea-catalyzed asymmetric michael addition of activated methylene compounds to alpha,beta-unsaturated imides: dual activation of imide by intra- and intermolecular hydrogen bonding.J Am Chem Soc. 2006 Jul 26; 128(29):9413-9.JA
A thiourea-catalyzed asymmetric Michael addition of activated methylene compounds to alpha,beta-unsaturated imides derived from 2-pyrrolidinone and 2-methoxybenzamide has been developed. In the case of 2-pyrrolidinone derivatives, the reaction with malononitrile proceeded in toluene with high enantioselectivity, providing the Michael adducts in good yields. However, the nucleophiles that could be used for this reaction were limited to malononitrile due to poor reactivity of the substrate. Further examination revealed that N-alkenoyl-2-methoxybenzamide was the best substrate among the corresponding benzamide derivatives bearing different substituents on the aromatic ring. Indeed, several activated methylene compounds such as malononitrile, methyl alpha-cyanoacetate, and nitromethane could be employed as a nucleophile to give the Michael adducts in good to excellent yields with up to 93% ee. The results of spectroscopic experiments clarified that this enhanced reactivity can be attributed to the intramolecular hydrogen-bonding interaction between the N-H of the imide and the methoxy group of the benzamide moiety. Thus, the key to the success of the catalytic enantioselective Michael addition is dual activation of the substrate by both intramolecular hydrogen bonding in the imide and intermolecular hydrogen bonding with thiourea 1a, as well as the activation of a nucleophile by the tertiary amine of the bifunctional thiourea.