Asymmetric Synthesis of α-Tertiary Amines by Combination of Biocatalysis and Organolithium-Mediated Rearrangements of Ureas

  • Wojciech Zawodny

Student thesis: Phd


Quaternary centres bearing a nitrogen atom are found in natural products and therapeutic agents but they represent a remarkably challenging synthetic motif to access when stereochemical control is required. This thesis details investigations into the development of an innovative approach that – by combining biocatalysis with organolithium chemistry – allows the synthesis of enantioenriched α-tertiary amines. The strategy relies on the initial enzymatic asymmetric synthesis of amines. Two complementary pathways were identified: deracemisation with amine oxidases or enantioselective reduction with imine reductases. The enantioenriched amines were converted to the corresponding N-benzyl-N’-aryl ureas and subsequent organolithium-mediated stereospecific aryl migration developed in the Clayden group were carried out to obtain α-tertiary amines. Various scaffold were investigated: 1,1-disubstituted 1,2,3,4-tetrahydroisoquinoline, 2,2-disubstituted azepane and 1,1-disubstituted 2,3,4,5-tetrahydro-1H-benzo[c]azepine derivatives were successfully synthesised. The methodology was extended to acyclic systems, giving 3-pyridyl-derived α-tertiary amines.
Date of Award31 Dec 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorNicholas Turner (Supervisor) & Daniele Leonori (Supervisor)


  • biocatalysis; organolithium; rearrangement; alpha-tertiary amines; asymmetric synthesis; azepanes; pyridines

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