Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




John D. Chisholm

Subject Categories

Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Trichloroacetimidates are known to be excellent alkylating agents when activated by a catalytic amount of a Brønsted or Lewis acid. Work described herein involved taking advantage of the favorable reactivity of trichloroacetimidates to establish several different synthetic protocols, including the application of these reagents in the synthesis of pyrroloindoline based natural products, 3,3'-disubstituted indolenines and benzylic trichloroacetamides.

Initial investigations on the utilization of the reactivity of trichloroacetimidates found that diphenylmethyl trichloroacetimidate, which is a precursor to a highly stabilized carbocation, undergoes facile displacement with carboxylic acids providing the ester product without the need of any exogenous catalyst. Both hindered and unhindered carboxylic acids were esterified with high yields, with no preference for aromatic or aliphatic carboxylic acids. Carboxylic acids with unprotected hydroxyl groups or β-lactam rings were esterified efficiently. Substrates that are highly prone to elimination or retro-aldol were also esterified in high yields. Carboxylic acids with highly enolizable α-stereocenters were esterified without any racemization. Mechanistic studies indicate that the carboxylic acid substrate itself is acidic enough to be effective at promoting the esterification reaction.

During our studies on esterification with imidates it was found that these imidates also showed a tendency to undergo rearrangement to the corresponding trichloroacetamides. Two different sets of conditions, thermal and Lewis acid catalyzed, were established which provided these rearranged products with high yields. Various benzylic trichloroacetimidates were shown to undergo these transformations under the established conditions. Based on the observations discussed in this work a cationic mechanism is proposed.

After the preliminary studies on alkylation of benzylic trichloroacetimidate with different nucleophiles, this chemistry was applied towards the synthesis of natural products and their analogs. The pyrroloindoline ring system is found in many alkaloids and cyclic peptides which mainly differ in the substitution at the C3a position. To provide rapid access to these natural products a diversity-oriented strategy was established via displacement of C3a-trichloroacetimidate pyrroloindoline. Carbon, oxygen, sulfur and nitrogen nucleophiles were all shown to undergo substitution reactions with these trichloroacetimidates in the presence of a Lewis acid catalyst. In order to demonstrate the utility of this new method it was applied towards the synthesis of arundinine and a formal synthesis of psychotriasine. Current investigations involve the application of this method towards the synthesis of a complex pyrroloindoline natural product kapakahine C and the progress made therein has been discussed.

The reactivity of trichloroacetimidates was also investigated for the selective C3-alkylation of 2,3-disubstituted indoles to provide indolenines. Indolenines serve as useful intermediates in the synthesis of many complex alkaloids. Different benzylic and allylic trichloroacetimidates were shown to provide 3,3’-disubstituted indolenines with high yields in the presence of catalytic amounts of Lewis acids. Various substituted indoles were evaluated under these reaction conditions. This methodology was also applied towards the synthesis of the core tetracyclic ring system found in communesin natural products.

In addition to the above work, synthesis of small molecule inhibitors of Src Homology 2 Domain-Containing Inositol Phosphatase (SHIP) has also been described. Aberrations in the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) cellular signaling pathway can lead to diseased cellular states like cancer. Herein we have reported stereoselective synthesis of two quinoline based small molecule SHIP inhibitors. The lead compounds and their analogs were tested for their activities against SHIP by Malachite green assay and the discoveries made therein are discussed. In addition to this synthesis of a tryptamine based SHIP inhibitor has also been reported.


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