Synfacts 2019; 15(08): 0934
DOI: 10.1055/s-0039-1690455
Organo- and Biocatalysis
© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Thiazolium Salt Catalyzed Asymmetric Benzoin Reaction

Benjamin List
Vikas Kumar Singh
Sheehan JC. * Hunneman DH, Hara T. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA
Homogeneous Asymmetric Catalysis.

J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1966;
88: 3666-3667
Sheehan JC. * Hara T. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA
Asymmetric Thiazolium Salt Catalysis of the Benzoin Condensation.

J. Org. Chem. 1974;
39: 1196-1199
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
18 July 2019 (online)



In 1966, Hunneman and Sheehan reported the first asymmetric benzoin reaction mediated by a chiral thiazolium salt to form the corresponding product with low yield and enantioselectivity. Based on the catalytic cycle proposed by Breslow (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 1958, 80, 3719), Hara and Sheehan later studied the stereochemical effect of various enantiopure thiazolium salts on the reaction. Although the authors could not improve the yield, they did observe slight improvements in enantioinduction. Following this seminal work, several other groups have reported the use of related N-heterocyclic carbene precursors to catalyze reactions with excellent enantioselectivities and have further applied such motifs in metal catalysis as chiral ligands.



Reactions such as pyruvate decarboxylation and benzoin addition can also be catalyzed by enzymes using similar thiazolium ions (vitamin B1, thiamine) as a cofactor, where the electrophilic carbonyl carbon is converted into an acyl anion equivalent (Umpolung). In analogy to biocatalysis, the simple thiazolium salt I can also generate catalytically active carbene II upon deprotonation. Nu­cleophilic attack of II on an aldehyde gives intermediate III, which, after tautomerization, furnishes the crucial Breslow intermediate IV (A. Berkessel, V. R. Yatham, S. Elfert, J.-M. Neudörfl Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2013, 52, 11158). Subsequently, IV reacts with a second aldehyde molecule to give addition product V, which then furnishes the benzoin product with regeneration of the active catalyst.