Aldol reaction
Overview
 
The aldol reaction is a powerful means of forming carbon–carbon bonds in organic chemistry
Organic chemistry
Organic chemistry is a subdiscipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives...

.
Discovered independently by Charles-Adolphe Wurtz
Charles-Adolphe Wurtz
Adolphe Wurtz was an Alsatian French chemist. He is best remembered for his decades-long advocacy for the atomic theory and for ideas about the structures of chemical compounds, against the skeptical opinions of chemists such as Marcellin Berthelot and Etienne Henri Sainte-Claire Deville...

 and Alexander Porfyrevich Borodin in 1872, the reaction combines two carbonyl
Carbonyl
In organic chemistry, a carbonyl group is a functional group composed of a carbon atom double-bonded to an oxygen atom: C=O. It is common to several classes of organic compounds, as part of many larger functional groups....

 compounds (the original experiments used aldehyde
Aldehyde
An aldehyde is an organic compound containing a formyl group. This functional group, with the structure R-CHO, consists of a carbonyl center bonded to hydrogen and an R group....

s) to form a new β-hydroxy carbonyl
Hydroxy ketone
A hydroxy ketone in organic chemistry is a functional group consisting of a ketone flanked by a hydroxyl group. In the two main classes the hydroxyl group can be placed in the alpha position or in the beta position .* An alpha-hydroxy ketone is called an acyloin* Prominent beta-hydroxy ketones...

 compound. These products are known as aldols, from the aldehyde + alcohol, a structural motif seen in many of the products. Aldol structural units are found in many important molecules, whether naturally occurring or synthetic.
For example, the aldol reaction has been used in the large-scale production of the commodity chemical pentaerythritol
Pentaerythritol
Pentaerythritol is the organic compound with the formula C5H12O4. This white, crystalline polyol with the neopentane backbone is a versatile building block for the preparation of many polyfunctionalized compounds such as the explosive PETN and pentaerythritol tetraacrylate...


and the synthesis of the heart disease drug Lipitor (atorvastatin
Atorvastatin
Atorvastatin , sold by Pfizer under the trade name Lipitor, is a member of the drug class known as statins, used for lowering blood cholesterol. It also stabilizes plaque and prevents strokes through anti-inflammatory and other mechanisms...

).

The aldol reaction is powerful because it unites two relatively simple molecules into a more complex one.
Encyclopedia
The aldol reaction is a powerful means of forming carbon–carbon bonds in organic chemistry
Organic chemistry
Organic chemistry is a subdiscipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives...

.
Discovered independently by Charles-Adolphe Wurtz
Charles-Adolphe Wurtz
Adolphe Wurtz was an Alsatian French chemist. He is best remembered for his decades-long advocacy for the atomic theory and for ideas about the structures of chemical compounds, against the skeptical opinions of chemists such as Marcellin Berthelot and Etienne Henri Sainte-Claire Deville...

 and Alexander Porfyrevich Borodin in 1872, the reaction combines two carbonyl
Carbonyl
In organic chemistry, a carbonyl group is a functional group composed of a carbon atom double-bonded to an oxygen atom: C=O. It is common to several classes of organic compounds, as part of many larger functional groups....

 compounds (the original experiments used aldehyde
Aldehyde
An aldehyde is an organic compound containing a formyl group. This functional group, with the structure R-CHO, consists of a carbonyl center bonded to hydrogen and an R group....

s) to form a new β-hydroxy carbonyl
Hydroxy ketone
A hydroxy ketone in organic chemistry is a functional group consisting of a ketone flanked by a hydroxyl group. In the two main classes the hydroxyl group can be placed in the alpha position or in the beta position .* An alpha-hydroxy ketone is called an acyloin* Prominent beta-hydroxy ketones...

 compound. These products are known as aldols, from the aldehyde + alcohol, a structural motif seen in many of the products. Aldol structural units are found in many important molecules, whether naturally occurring or synthetic.
For example, the aldol reaction has been used in the large-scale production of the commodity chemical pentaerythritol
Pentaerythritol
Pentaerythritol is the organic compound with the formula C5H12O4. This white, crystalline polyol with the neopentane backbone is a versatile building block for the preparation of many polyfunctionalized compounds such as the explosive PETN and pentaerythritol tetraacrylate...


and the synthesis of the heart disease drug Lipitor (atorvastatin
Atorvastatin
Atorvastatin , sold by Pfizer under the trade name Lipitor, is a member of the drug class known as statins, used for lowering blood cholesterol. It also stabilizes plaque and prevents strokes through anti-inflammatory and other mechanisms...

).

The aldol reaction is powerful because it unites two relatively simple molecules into a more complex one. Increased complexity arises because up to two new stereogenic centers (on the α- and β-carbon
Alpha carbon
The alpha carbon in organic chemistry refers to the first carbon that attaches to a functional group . By extension, the second carbon is the beta carbon, and so on....

 of the aldol adduct, marked with asterisks in the scheme below) are formed. Modern methodology is capable of not only allowing aldol reactions to proceed in high yield but also controlling both the relative and absolute stereochemical configuration of these stereocenters. This ability to selectively synthesize a particular stereoisomer is significant because different stereoisomers can have very different chemical or biological properties.

For example, stereogenic aldol units are especially common in polyketide
Polyketide
Polyketides are secondary metabolites from bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals. Polyketides are usually biosynthesized through the decarboxylative condensation of malonyl-CoA derived extender units in a similar process to fatty acid synthesis...

s, a class of molecules found in biological organisms. In nature, polyketides are synthesized by enzymes that effect iterative Claisen condensation
Claisen condensation
The Claisen condensation is a carbon–carbon bond forming reaction that occurs between two esters or one ester and another carbonyl compound in the presence of a strong base, resulting in a β-keto ester or a β-diketone...

s. The 1,3-dicarbonyl products of these reactions can then be variously derivatized to produce a wide variety of interesting structures. Often, such derivitization involves the reduction of one of the carbonyl groups, producing the aldol subunit. Some of these structures have potent biological properties: the potent immunosuppressant FK506, the anti-tumor agent discodermolide
Discodermolide
-Discodermolide is a recently discovered polyketide natural product found to be a potent inhibitor of tumor cell growth. The molecule's carbon skeleton is made up of eight polypropionate and four acetate units with 13 stereocenters.-History:...

, or the antifungal agent amphotericin B
Amphotericin B
Amphotericin B is a polyene antifungal drug, often used intravenously for systemic fungal infections...

, for example. Although the synthesis of many such compounds was once considered nearly impossible, aldol methodology has allowed their efficient synthesis
Total synthesis
In organic chemistry, a total synthesis is, in principle, the complete chemical synthesis of complex organic molecules from simpler pieces, usually without the aid of biological processes. In practice, these simpler pieces are commercially available in bulk and semi-bulk quantities, and are often...

 in many cases.
A typical modern aldol addition reaction
Addition reaction
An addition reaction, in organic chemistry, is in its simplest terms an organic reaction where two or more molecules combine to form a larger one....

, shown above, might involve the nucleophilic addition
Nucleophilic addition
In organic chemistry, a nucleophilic addition reaction is an addition reaction where in a chemical compound a π bond is removed by the creation of two new covalent bonds by the addition of a nucleophile....

 of a ketone
Ketone
In organic chemistry, a ketone is an organic compound with the structure RCR', where R and R' can be a variety of atoms and groups of atoms. It features a carbonyl group bonded to two other carbon atoms. Many ketones are known and many are of great importance in industry and in biology...

 enolate to an aldehyde
Aldehyde
An aldehyde is an organic compound containing a formyl group. This functional group, with the structure R-CHO, consists of a carbonyl center bonded to hydrogen and an R group....

. Once formed, the aldol product can sometimes lose a molecule of water
Dehydration reaction
In chemistry and the biological sciences, a dehydration reaction is usually defined as a chemical reaction that involves the loss of water from the reacting molecule. Dehydration reactions are a subset of elimination reactions...

 to form an α,β-unsaturated carbonyl compound. This is called aldol condensation
Aldol condensation
An aldol condensation is an organic reaction in which an enol or an enolate ion reacts with a carbonyl compound to form a β-hydroxyaldehyde or β-hydroxyketone, followed by a dehydration to give a conjugated enone....

. A variety of nucleophiles may be employed in the aldol reaction, including the enol
Enol
Enols are alkenes with a hydroxyl group affixed to one of the carbon atoms composing the double bond. Alkenes with a hydroxyl group on both sides of the double bond are called enediols. Deprotonated anions of enols are called enolates...

s, enolates, and enol ether
Ether
Ethers are a class of organic compounds that contain an ether group — an oxygen atom connected to two alkyl or aryl groups — of general formula R–O–R'. A typical example is the solvent and anesthetic diethyl ether, commonly referred to simply as "ether"...

s of ketones, aldehydes, and many other carbonyl
Carbonyl
In organic chemistry, a carbonyl group is a functional group composed of a carbon atom double-bonded to an oxygen atom: C=O. It is common to several classes of organic compounds, as part of many larger functional groups....

 compounds. The electrophilic
Electrophile
In general electrophiles are positively charged species that are attracted to an electron rich centre. In chemistry, an electrophile is a reagent attracted to electrons that participates in a chemical reaction by accepting an electron pair in order to bond to a nucleophile...

 partner is usually an aldehyde or ketone (many variations, such as the Mannich reaction
Mannich reaction
The Mannich reaction is an organic reaction which consists of an amino alkylation of an acidic proton placed next to a carbonyl functional group with formaldehyde and ammonia or any primary or secondary amine. The final product is a β-amino-carbonyl compound also known as a Mannich base...

, exist). When the nucleophile and electrophile are different, the reaction is called a crossed aldol reaction; on the converse, when the nucleophile and electrophile are the same, the reaction is called aldol dimerization.

Mechanisms

The aldol reaction may proceed via two fundamentally different mechanisms. Carbonyl compounds, such as aldehydes and ketones, can be converted to enols or enol ethers. These compounds, being nucleophilic at the α-carbon, can attack especially reactive protonated carbonyls such as protonated aldehydes. This is the "enol mechanism." Carbonyl compounds, being carbon acids, can also be deprotonated to form enolates, which are much more nucleophilic than enols or enol ethers and can attack electrophiles directly. The usual electrophile is an aldehyde, since ketones are much less reactive. This is the "enolate mechanism."

If the conditions are particularly harsh (e.g., NaOMe, MeOH, reflux
Reflux
Reflux is a technique involving the condensation of vapors and the return of this condensate to the system from which it originated. It is used in industrial and laboratory distillations...

), condensation may occur, but this can usually be avoided with mild reagents and low temperatures (e.g., LDA (a strong base), THF, −78 °C). Although the aldol addition usually proceeds to near completion under irreversible conditions, the isolated aldol adducts are sensitive to base-induced retro-aldol cleavage to return starting materials. In contrast, retro-aldol condensations are rare, but possible.

Enol mechanism

When an acid catalyst is used, the initial step in the reaction mechanism
Reaction mechanism
In chemistry, a reaction mechanism is the step by step sequence of elementary reactions by which overall chemical change occurs.Although only the net chemical change is directly observable for most chemical reactions, experiments can often be designed that suggest the possible sequence of steps in...

 involves acid-catalyzed tautomer
Tautomer
Tautomers are isomers of organic compounds that readily interconvert by a chemical reaction called tautomerization. This reaction commonly results in the formal migration of a hydrogen atom or proton, accompanied by a switch of a single bond and adjacent double bond...

ization of the carbonyl compound to the enol. The acid also serves to activate the carbonyl group of another molecule by protonation, rendering it highly electrophilic
Electrophile
In general electrophiles are positively charged species that are attracted to an electron rich centre. In chemistry, an electrophile is a reagent attracted to electrons that participates in a chemical reaction by accepting an electron pair in order to bond to a nucleophile...

. The enol is nucleophilic
Nucleophile
A nucleophile is a species that donates an electron-pair to an electrophile to form a chemical bond in a reaction. All molecules or ions with a free pair of electrons can act as nucleophiles. Because nucleophiles donate electrons, they are by definition Lewis bases.Nucleophilic describes the...

 at the α-carbon, allowing it to attack the protonated carbonyl compound, leading to the aldol after deprotonation
Deprotonation
Deprotonation is the removal of a proton from a molecule, forming the conjugate base.The relative ability of a molecule to give up a proton is measured by its pKa value. A low pKa value indicates that the compound is acidic and will easily give up its proton to a base...

. This usually dehydrates
Dehydration reaction
In chemistry and the biological sciences, a dehydration reaction is usually defined as a chemical reaction that involves the loss of water from the reacting molecule. Dehydration reactions are a subset of elimination reactions...

 to give the unsaturated carbonyl compound. The scheme shows a typical acid-catalyzed self-condensation of an aldehyde.

Acid-catalyzed aldol mechanism

Acid-catalyzed dehydration

Enolate mechanism

If the catalyst is a moderate base such as hydroxide
Hydroxide
Hydroxide is a diatomic anion with chemical formula OH−. It consists of an oxygen and a hydrogen atom held together by a covalent bond, and carrying a negative electric charge. It is an important but usually minor constituent of water. It functions as a base, as a ligand, a nucleophile, and a...

 ion or an alkoxide
Alkoxide
An alkoxide is the conjugate base of an alcohol and therefore consists of an organic group bonded to a negatively charged oxygen atom. They can be written as RO−, where R is the organic substituent. Alkoxides are strong bases and, when R is not bulky, good nucleophiles and good ligands...

, the aldol reaction occurs via nucleophilic attack by the resonance-stabilized
Resonance (chemistry)
In chemistry, resonance or mesomerism is a way of describing delocalized electrons within certain molecules or polyatomic ions where the bonding cannot be expressed by one single Lewis formula...

 enolate on the carbonyl group of another molecule. The product is the alkoxide
Alkoxide
An alkoxide is the conjugate base of an alcohol and therefore consists of an organic group bonded to a negatively charged oxygen atom. They can be written as RO−, where R is the organic substituent. Alkoxides are strong bases and, when R is not bulky, good nucleophiles and good ligands...

 salt of the aldol product. The aldol itself is then formed, and it may then undergo dehydration to give the unsaturated carbonyl compound. The scheme shows a simple mechanism for the base-catalyzed aldol reaction of an aldehyde with itself.

Base-catalyzed aldol reaction (shown using OCH3
Methoxide
Methoxides are organic salts and the simplest alkoxides. Sodium methoxide and potassium hydroxide have widespread use, though other variants such as lithium hydroxide, rubidium methoxide, caesium methoxide, and francium methoxide exist as well.- Methoxide ion :In organic chemistry, the methoxide...

 as base)
Base-catalyzed dehydration (frequently written incorrectly as a single step, see E1cB elimination reaction
E1cB elimination reaction
The E1cB elimination reaction is a special type of elimination reaction in organic chemistry. This reaction mechanism explains the formation of alkenes from alkyl halides through a carbanion intermediate given specified reaction conditions and specified substrates. The abbreviation stands for ...

)
Although only a catalytic amount of base is required in some cases, the more usual procedure is to use a stoichiometric amount of a strong base such as LDA
Lithium diisopropylamide
Lithium diisopropylamide is the chemical compound with the formula [2CH]2NLi. Generally abbreviated LDA, it is a strong base used in organic chemistry for the deprotonation of weakly acidic compounds. The reagent has been widely accepted because it is soluble in non-polar organic solvents and it...

 or NaHMDS. In this case, enolate formation is irreversible, and the aldol product is not formed until the metal alkoxide of the aldol product is protonated in a separate workup step.

Zimmerman–Traxler model

More refined forms of the mechanism are known. In 1957, Zimmerman
Howard Zimmerman
Howard E. Zimmerman is a professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1980 and the recipient of the 1985 American Institute of Chemists Pioneering Award....

 and Traxler proposed that some aldol reactions have "six-membered transition states having a chair conformation." This is now known as the Zimmerman–Traxler model. E-enolates give rise to anti products, whereas Z-enolates give rise to syn products
Syn addition
In organic chemistry, syn and anti addition are different ways in which two substituents can be added to a double bond or triple bond. This article will use alkenes as examples....

. The factors that control selectivity are the preference for placing substituents equatorially in six-membered transition states and the avoidance of syn-pentane interactions
Pentane interference
Pentane interference or syn-pentane interaction is the steric hindrance that the two terminal methyl groups experience in one of the chemical conformations of n-pentane...

, respectively. E and Z refer to the cis-trans stereochemical relationship between the enolate oxygen bearing the positive counterion and the highest priority group on the alpha carbon. In reality, only some metals such as lithium and boron reliably follow the Zimmerman–Traxler model. Thus, in some cases, the stereochemical
Stereochemistry
Stereochemistry, a subdiscipline of chemistry, involves the study of the relative spatial arrangement of atoms within molecules. An important branch of stereochemistry is the study of chiral molecules....

 outcome of the reaction may be unpredictable.

Crossed-aldol reactant control

The problem of "control" in the aldol addition is best demonstrated by an example. Consider the outcome of this hypothetical reaction:

In this reaction, two unsymmetrical ketones are being condensed using sodium ethoxide
Sodium ethoxide
Sodium ethoxide is an alkoxide salt with the chemical formula C2H5ONa.-Preparation:It is commercially available as a white solid, or as a solution in ethanol. It is easily prepared in the laboratory by reacting sodium metal with ethanol:...

. The basicity of sodium ethoxide is such that it cannot fully deprotonate either of the ketones, but can produce small amounts of the sodium enolate of both ketones. This means that, in addition to being potential aldol electrophiles, both ketones may also act as nucleophiles via their sodium enolate. Two electrophiles and two nucleophiles, then, have potential to result in four possible products:

Thus, if one wishes to obtain only one of the cross-products, one must control which carbonyl becomes the nucleophilic enol/enolate and which remains in its electrophilic carbonyl form.

Acidity

The simplest control is if only one of the reactants has acidic protons, and only this molecule forms the enolate. For example, the addition of diethyl malonate
Diethyl malonate
Diethyl malonate, also known as DEM, is the diethyl ester of malonic acid. It occurs naturally in grapes and strawberries as a colourless liquid with an apple-like odour, and is used in perfumes...

 into benzaldehyde
Benzaldehyde
Benzaldehyde is an organic compound consisting of a benzene ring with a formyl substituent. It is the simplest aromatic aldehyde and one of the most industrially useful. This colorless liquid has a characteristic pleasant almond-like odor...

 would produce only one product. Only the malonate has α hydrogens, so it is the nucleophilic partner, whereas the non-enolizeable benzaldehyde can only be the electrophile:

The malonate is particularly easy to deprotonate because the α position is flanked by more than one carbonyl. Double-activation makes the enolate more stable, so not as strong a base is required to form it. An extension of this effect can allow control over which of the two carbonyl reactants becomes the enolate even if both do have α hydrogens. If one partner is considerably more acidic than the other, the most acidic proton is abstracted by the base and an enolate is formed at that carbonyl while the carbonyl that is less acidic is not affected by the base. This type of control works only if the difference in acidity is large enough and no excess of base is used for the reaction. A typical substrate for this situation is when the deprotonatable position is activated by more than one carbonyl-like group. Common examples include a CH2 group flanked by two carbonyls or nitriles (see for example the Knoevenagel condensation
Knoevenagel condensation
The Knoevenagel condensation reaction is an organic reaction named after Emil Knoevenagel. It is a modification of the Aldol condensation.A Knoevenagel condensation is a nucleophilic addition of an active hydrogen compound to a carbonyl group followed by a dehydration reaction in which a molecule...

 and the first steps of the Malonic ester synthesis
Malonic ester synthesis
The malonic ester synthesis is a chemical reaction where diethyl malonate or another ester of malonic acid is alkylated at the carbon alpha to both carbonyl groups, and then converted to a substituted acetic acid. The major drawback of malonic ester synthesis is that the alkylation stage can also...

).

Order of addition

One common solution is to form the enolate of one partner first, and then add the other partner under kinetic control. Kinetic control means that the forward aldol addition reaction must be significantly faster than the reverse retro-aldol reaction. For this approach to succeed, two other conditions must also be satisfied; it must be possible to quantitatively form the enolate of one partner, and the forward aldol reaction must be significantly faster than the transfer of the enolate from one partner to another. Common kinetic control conditions involve the formation of the enolate of a ketone with LDA
Lithium diisopropylamide
Lithium diisopropylamide is the chemical compound with the formula [2CH]2NLi. Generally abbreviated LDA, it is a strong base used in organic chemistry for the deprotonation of weakly acidic compounds. The reagent has been widely accepted because it is soluble in non-polar organic solvents and it...

 at −78 °C, followed by the slow addition of an aldehyde.

Formation

The enolate may be formed by using a strong base ("hard conditions") or using a Lewis acid
Lewis acid
]The term Lewis acid refers to a definition of acid published by Gilbert N. Lewis in 1923, specifically: An acid substance is one which can employ a lone pair from another molecule in completing the stable group of one of its own atoms. Thus, H+ is a Lewis acid, since it can accept a lone pair,...

 and a weak base ("soft conditions"):



For deprotonation
Deprotonation
Deprotonation is the removal of a proton from a molecule, forming the conjugate base.The relative ability of a molecule to give up a proton is measured by its pKa value. A low pKa value indicates that the compound is acidic and will easily give up its proton to a base...

 to occur, the stereoelectronic requirement is that the alpha-C-H sigma bond
Sigma bond
In chemistry, sigma bonds are the strongest type of covalent chemical bond. They are formed by head-on overlapping between atomic orbitals. Sigma bonding is most clearly defined for diatomic molecules using the language and tools of symmetry groups. In this formal approach, a σ-bond is...

 must be able to overlap with the pi* orbital of the carbonyl
Carbonyl
In organic chemistry, a carbonyl group is a functional group composed of a carbon atom double-bonded to an oxygen atom: C=O. It is common to several classes of organic compounds, as part of many larger functional groups....

:

Geometry

Extensive studies have been performed on the formation of enolates under many different conditions. It is now possible to generate, in most cases, the desired enolate geometry:

For ketones, most enolization conditions give Z enolates. For ester
Ester
Esters are chemical compounds derived by reacting an oxoacid with a hydroxyl compound such as an alcohol or phenol. Esters are usually derived from an inorganic acid or organic acid in which at least one -OH group is replaced by an -O-alkyl group, and most commonly from carboxylic acids and...

s, most enolization conditions give E enolates. The addition of HMPA
Hexamethylphosphoramide
Hexamethylphosphoramide, often abbreviated HMPA, is a phosphoramide having the formula [2N]3PO. This colorless liquid is a useful polar aprotic solvent and additive in organic synthesis.-Structure and reactivity:...

 is known to reverse the stereoselectivity
Stereoselectivity
In chemistry, stereoselectivity is the property of a chemical reaction in which a single reactant forms an unequal mixture of stereoisomers during the non-stereospecific creation of a new stereocenter or during the non-stereospecific transformation of a pre-existing one...

 of deprotonation.
The stereoselective formation of enolates has been rationalized with the Ireland model, although its validity is somewhat questionable. In most cases, it is not known which, if any, intermediates are monomer
Monomer
A monomer is an atom or a small molecule that may bind chemically to other monomers to form a polymer; the term "monomeric protein" may also be used to describe one of the proteins making up a multiprotein complex...

ic or oligomer
Oligomer
In chemistry, an oligomer is a molecule that consists of a few monomer units , in contrast to a polymer that, at least in principle, consists of an unlimited number of monomers. Dimers, trimers, and tetramers are oligomers. Many oils are oligomeric, such as liquid paraffin...

ic in nature; nonetheless, the Ireland model remains a useful tool for understanding enolates.

In the Ireland model, the deprotonation is assumed to proceed by a six-membered or cyclic monomeric transition state. The larger of the two substituents on the electrophile (in the case above, methyl is larger than proton) adopts an equatorial disposition in the favored transition state, leading to a preference for E enolates. The model clearly fails in many cases; for example, if the solvent mixture is changed from THF to 23% HMPA-THF (as seen above), the enolate geometry is reversed, which is inconsistent with this model and its cyclic transition state.

Regiochemistry

If an unsymmetrical ketone is subjected to base, it has the potential to form two regioisomeric enolates (ignoring enolate geometry). For example:

The trisubstituted enolate is considered the kinetic
Thermodynamic reaction control
Thermodynamic reaction control or kinetic reaction control in a chemical reaction can decide the composition in a reaction product mixture when competing pathways lead to different products and the reaction conditions influence the selectivity...

 enolate, while the tetrasubstituted enolate is considered the thermodynamic enolate. The alpha hydrogen deprotonated to form the kinetic enolate is less hindered, and therefore deprotonated more quickly. In general, tetrasubstituted olefins are more stable than trisubstituted olefins due to hyperconjugative stabilization. The ratio of enolate regioisomers is heavily influenced by the choice of base. For the above example, kinetic control may be established with LDA at −78 °C, giving 99:1 selectivity of kinetic: thermodynamic enolate, while thermodynamic control may be established with triphenylmethyllithium
Organolithium reagent
An organolithium reagent is an organometallic compound with a direct bond between a carbon and a lithium atom. As the electropositive nature of lithium puts most of the charge density of the bond on the carbon atom, effectively creating a carbanion, organolithium compounds are extremely powerful...

 at room temperature
Room temperature
-Comfort levels:The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers has listings for suggested temperatures and air flow rates in different types of buildings and different environmental circumstances. For example, a single office in a building has an occupancy ratio per...

, giving 10:90 selectivity.

In general, kinetic enolates are favored by cold temperatures, conditions that give relatively ionic metal–oxygen bonding, and rapid deprotonation using a slight excess of a strong, sterically hindered base. The large base only deprotonates the more accessible hydrogen, and the low temperatures and excess base help avoid equilibration to the more stable alternate enolate after initial enolate formation. Thermodynamic enolates are favored by longer equilibration times at higher temperatures, conditions that give relatively covalent metal–oxygen bonding, and use of a slight sub-stoichiometric amount of strong base. By using insufficient base to deprotonate all of the carbonyl molecules, the enolates and carbonyls can exchange protons with each other and equilibrate to their more stable isomer. Using various metals and solvents can provide control over the amount of ionic character in the metal–oxygen bond.

Stereoselectivity

The aldol reaction is particularly useful because two new stereogenic centers are generated in one reaction. Extensive research has been performed to understand the reaction mechanism and improve the selectivity observed under many different conditions. The syn/anti convention is commonly used to denote the relative stereochemistry at the α- and β-carbon.
The convention applies when propionate (or higher order) nucleophiles are added to aldehydes. The R group of the ketone and the R group of the aldehyde are aligned in a "zig zag" pattern in the plane of the paper (or screen), and the disposition of the formed stereocenters is deemed syn or anti, depending if they are on the same or opposite sides of the main chain.

Older papers use the erythro/threo nomenclature familiar from carbohydrate chemistry.

Enolate geometry

There is no significant difference between the level of stereoinduction observed with E and Z enolates. Each alkene geometry leads primarily to one specific relative stereochemistry in the product, E giving anti and Z giving syn:

Metal ion

The enolate metal cation may play a large role in determining the level of stereoselectivity in the aldol reaction. Boron
Boron
Boron is the chemical element with atomic number 5 and the chemical symbol B. Boron is a metalloid. Because boron is not produced by stellar nucleosynthesis, it is a low-abundance element in both the solar system and the Earth's crust. However, boron is concentrated on Earth by the...

 is often used because its bond length
Bond length
- Explanation :Bond length is related to bond order, when more electrons participate in bond formation the bond will get shorter. Bond length is also inversely related to bond strength and the bond dissociation energy, as a stronger bond will be shorter...

s are significantly shorter than that of other metals such as lithium
Lithium
Lithium is a soft, silver-white metal that belongs to the alkali metal group of chemical elements. It is represented by the symbol Li, and it has the atomic number 3. Under standard conditions it is the lightest metal and the least dense solid element. Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly...

, aluminium
Aluminium
Aluminium or aluminum is a silvery white member of the boron group of chemical elements. It has the symbol Al, and its atomic number is 13. It is not soluble in water under normal circumstances....

, or magnesium
Magnesium
Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg, atomic number 12, and common oxidation number +2. It is an alkaline earth metal and the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and ninth in the known universe as a whole...

.

For example, boron–carbon and boron–oxygen bonds are 1.4–1.5 Å
Ångström
The angstrom or ångström, is a unit of length equal to 1/10,000,000,000 of a meter . Its symbol is the Swedish letter Å....

 and 1.5–1.6 Å in length, respectively, whereas typical metal-carbon and metal-oxygen bonds are 1.9–2.2 Å and 2.0–2.2 Å in length, respectively. The use of boron rather than a metal "tightens" the transition state
Transition state
The transition state of a chemical reaction is a particular configuration along the reaction coordinate. It is defined as the state corresponding to the highest energy along this reaction coordinate. At this point, assuming a perfectly irreversible reaction, colliding reactant molecules will always...

 and gives greater stereoselectivity in the reaction. Thus the above reaction gives a syn:anti ratio of 80:20 using a lithium enolate compared to 97:3 using a bibutylboron enolate.

Alpha stereocenter on the enolate

The aldol reaction may exhibit "substrate-based stereocontrol", in which existing chirality
Chirality (chemistry)
A chiral molecule is a type of molecule that lacks an internal plane of symmetry and thus has a non-superimposable mirror image. The feature that is most often the cause of chirality in molecules is the presence of an asymmetric carbon atom....

 on either reactant influences the stereochemical outcome of the reaction. This has been extensively studied, and in many cases, one can predict the sense of asymmetric induction
Asymmetric induction
Asymmetric induction in stereochemistry describes the preferential formation in a chemical reaction of one enantiomer or diastereoisomer over the other as a result of the influence of a chiral feature present in the substrate, reagent, catalyst or environment...

, if not the absolute level of diastereoselectivity. If the enolate contains a stereocenter
Stereocenter
A stereocenter or stereogenic center is an atom, bearing groups such that an interchanging of any two groups leads to a stereoisomer.A chirality center is a stereocenter consisting of an atom holding a set of ligands in a spatial arrangement which is not superposable on its mirror image...

 in the alpha position, excellent stereocontrol may be realized.

In the case of an E enolate, the dominant control element is allylic 1,3-strain
Allylic strain
thumb | 250 px | right | Allylic strain in an olefin.Allylic strain in organic chemistry is a type of strain energy resulting from the interaction between a substituent on one end of an olefin with an allylic substituent on the other end...

 whereas in the case of a Z enolate, the dominant control element is the avoidance of 1,3-diaxial interactions. The general model is presented below:

For clarity, the stereocenter on the enolate has been epimer
Epimer
In chemistry, epimers are diastereomers that differ in configuration of only one stereogenic center. Diastereomers are a class of stereoisomers that are non-superposable, non-mirror images of one another....

ized; in reality, the opposite diastereoface of the aldehyde would have been attacked. In both cases, the 1,3-syn diastereomer is favored. There are many examples of this type of stereocontrol:

Alpha stereocenter on the electrophile

When enolates attacks aldehydes with an alpha stereocenter, excellent stereocontrol is also possible. The general observation is that E enolates exhibit Felkin diastereoface selection, while Z enolates exhibit anti-Felkin selectivity. The general model is presented below:

Since Z enolates must react through a transition state
Transition state
The transition state of a chemical reaction is a particular configuration along the reaction coordinate. It is defined as the state corresponding to the highest energy along this reaction coordinate. At this point, assuming a perfectly irreversible reaction, colliding reactant molecules will always...

 that contains either a destabilizing syn-pentane interaction or an anti-Felkin rotamer, Z-enolates exhibit lower levels of diastereoselectivity in this case. Some examples are presented below:

Unified model of stereoinduction

If both the enolate and the aldehyde both contain pre-existing chirality, then the outcome of the "double stereodifferentiating" aldol reaction may be predicted using a merged stereochemical model that takes into account the enolate facial bias, enolate geometry, and aldehyde facial bias. Several examples of the application of this model are given below:

Evans' oxazolidinone chemistry

Modern organic syntheses now require the synthesis of compounds in enantiopure form. Since the aldol addition reaction creates two new stereocenters, up to four stereoisomers may result.

Many methods which control both relative stereochemistry (i.e., syn or anti, as discussed above) and absolute stereochemistry
Stereochemistry
Stereochemistry, a subdiscipline of chemistry, involves the study of the relative spatial arrangement of atoms within molecules. An important branch of stereochemistry is the study of chiral molecules....

 (i.e., R or S) have been developed.

A widely used method is the Evans' acyl
Acyl
An acyl group is a functional group derived by the removal of one or more hydroxyl groups from an oxoacid, including inorganic acids.In organic chemistry, the acyl group is usually derived from a carboxylic acid . Therefore, it has the formula RCO-, where R represents an alkyl group that is...

 oxazolidinone method. Developed in the late 1970s and 1980s by David A. Evans
David A. Evans
David A. Evans is the Abbott and James Lawrence Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University...

 and coworkers, the method works by temporarily creating a chiral enolate by appending a chiral auxiliary
Chiral auxiliary
A chiral auxiliary is a chemical compound or unit that is temporarily incorporated into an organic synthesis so that it can be carried out asymmetrically with the selective formation of one of two enantiomers...

. The pre-existing chirality from the auxiliary is then transferred to the aldol adduct by performing a diastereoselective aldol reaction. Upon subsequent removal of the auxiliary, the desired aldol stereoisomer is revealed.



In the case of the Evans' method, the chiral auxiliary appended is an oxazolidinone, and the resulting carbonyl compound is an imide
Imide
In organic chemistry, an imide is a functional group consisting of two carbonyl groups bound to nitrogen. These compounds are structurally related to acid anhydrides. The relationship between esters and amides and between imides and anhydrides is analogous, the amine-derived groups are less reactive...

. A number of oxazolidinones are now readily available in both enantiomeric forms. These may cost roughly $10–$20 US dollars per gram, rendering them relatively expensive.



The acylation
Acylation
In chemistry, acylation is the process of adding an acyl group to a compound. The compound providing the acyl group is called the acylating agent....

 of an oxazolidinone is a convenient procedure, and is informally referred to as "loading done". Z-enolates, leading to syn-aldol adducts, can be reliably formed using boron-mediated soft enolization:



Often, a single diastereomer
Diastereomer
Diastereomers are stereoisomers that are not enantiomers.Diastereomerism occurs when two or more stereoisomers of a compound have different configurations at one or more of the equivalent stereocenters and are not mirror images of each other.When two diastereoisomers differ from each other at...

 may be obtained by one crystallization
Crystallization
Crystallization is the process of formation of solid crystals precipitating from a solution, melt or more rarely deposited directly from a gas. Crystallization is also a chemical solid–liquid separation technique, in which mass transfer of a solute from the liquid solution to a pure solid...

 of the aldol adduct. However, anti-aldol adducts cannot be obtained reliably with the Evans method. Despite the cost and the limitation to give only syn adducts, the method's superior reliability, ease of use, and versatility render it the method of choice in many situations. Many methods are available for the cleavage of the auxiliary:

Upon construction of the imide, both syn- and anti-selective aldol addition reactions may be performed, allowing the assemblage of three of the four possible stereoarrays: syn selective: and anti selective:



In the syn-selective reactions, both enolization methods give the Z enolate, as expected; however, the stereochemical outcome of the reaction is controlled by the methyl stereocenter, rather than the chirality of the oxazolidinone. The methods described allow the stereoselective assembly of polyketide
Polyketide
Polyketides are secondary metabolites from bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals. Polyketides are usually biosynthesized through the decarboxylative condensation of malonyl-CoA derived extender units in a similar process to fatty acid synthesis...

s, a class of natural products that often feature the aldol retron.

Modern variations and methods

Recent methodology now allows a much wider variety of aldol reactions to be conducted, often with a catalytic amount of chiral ligand. When reactions employ small amounts of enantiomerically pure ligands to induce the formation of enantiomerically pure products, the reactions are typically termed "catalytic, asymmetric"; for example, many different catalytic, asymmetric aldol reactions are now available.

Acetate aldol reactions

A key limitation to the chiral auxiliary
Chiral auxiliary
A chiral auxiliary is a chemical compound or unit that is temporarily incorporated into an organic synthesis so that it can be carried out asymmetrically with the selective formation of one of two enantiomers...

 approach described previously is the failure of N-acetyl imide
Imide
In organic chemistry, an imide is a functional group consisting of two carbonyl groups bound to nitrogen. These compounds are structurally related to acid anhydrides. The relationship between esters and amides and between imides and anhydrides is analogous, the amine-derived groups are less reactive...

s to react selectively. An early approach was to use a temporary thioether
Thioether
A thioether is a functional group in organosulfur chemistry with the connectivity C-S-C as shown on right. Like many other sulfur-containing compounds, volatile thioethers have foul odors. A thioether is similar to an ether except that it contains a sulfur atom in place of the oxygen...

 group:


Mukaiyama aldol reaction

The Mukaiyama aldol reaction is the nucleophilic addition
Nucleophilic addition
In organic chemistry, a nucleophilic addition reaction is an addition reaction where in a chemical compound a π bond is removed by the creation of two new covalent bonds by the addition of a nucleophile....

 of silyl enol ether
Silyl enol ether
Silyl enol ethers in organic chemistry are a class of organic compounds that share a common functional group composed of an enolate bonded through its oxygen terminus to an organosilicon group....

s to aldehyde
Aldehyde
An aldehyde is an organic compound containing a formyl group. This functional group, with the structure R-CHO, consists of a carbonyl center bonded to hydrogen and an R group....

s catalyzed by a Lewis acid
Lewis acid
]The term Lewis acid refers to a definition of acid published by Gilbert N. Lewis in 1923, specifically: An acid substance is one which can employ a lone pair from another molecule in completing the stable group of one of its own atoms. Thus, H+ is a Lewis acid, since it can accept a lone pair,...

 such as boron trifluoride
Boron trifluoride
Boron trifluoride is the chemical compound with the formula BF3. This pungent colourless toxic gas forms white fumes in moist air. It is a useful Lewis acid and a versatile building block for other boron compounds.-Structure and bonding:...

 or titanium tetrachloride
Titanium tetrachloride
Titanium tetrachloride is the inorganic compound with the formula TiCl4. It is an important intermediate in the production of titanium metal and the pigment titanium dioxide. TiCl4 is an unusual example of a metal halide that is highly volatile...

. The Mukaiyama aldol reaction does not follow the Zimmerman-Traxler model. Carreira has described particularly useful asymmetric methodology with silyl ketene acetals, noteworthy for its high levels of enantioselectivity and wide substrate scope.

The method works on unbranched
Branching (chemistry)
In polymer chemistry, branching occurs by the replacement of a substituent, e.g., a hydrogen atom, on a monomer subunit, by another covalently bonded chain of that polymer; or, in the case of a graft copolymer, by a chain of another type...

 aliphatic aldehydes, which are often poor electrophile
Electrophile
In general electrophiles are positively charged species that are attracted to an electron rich centre. In chemistry, an electrophile is a reagent attracted to electrons that participates in a chemical reaction by accepting an electron pair in order to bond to a nucleophile...

s for catalytic, asymmetric processes. This may be due to poor electronic and steric differentiation between their enantiofaces.



The analogous vinylogous
Vinylogous
Vinylogous is an adjective used to apply the concept of vinylogy taught in intermediate undergraduate through graduate/research organic chemistry. Vinylogy has been defined as the transmission of electronic effects through a conjugated organic bonding system...

 Mukaiyama aldol process can also be rendered catalytic and asymmetric. The example shown below works efficiently for aromatic (but not aliphatic) aldehydes and the mechanism is believed to involve a chiral, metal-bound dienolate.


Crimmins thiazolidinethione aldol

A more recent version of the Evans' auxiliary is the Crimmins thiazolidinethione.
The yields, diastereoselectivities, and enantioselectivities of the reaction are, in general, high, although not as high as in comparable Evans cases. Unlike the Evans auxiliary, however, the thiazoldinethione can perform acetate aldol reactions (ref: Crimmins, Org. Lett. 2007, 9(1), 149–152.) and can produce the "Evans syn" or "non-Evans syn" adducts by simply varying the amount of (−)-sparteine
Sparteine
Sparteine is a class 1a antiarrhythmic agent; a sodium channel blocker. It is an alkaloid and can be extracted from scotch broom. It is the predominant alkaloid in Lupinus mutabilis, and is thought to chelate the bivalents calcium and magnesium...

. The reaction is believed to proceed via six-membered, titanium-bound transition state
Transition state
The transition state of a chemical reaction is a particular configuration along the reaction coordinate. It is defined as the state corresponding to the highest energy along this reaction coordinate. At this point, assuming a perfectly irreversible reaction, colliding reactant molecules will always...

s, analogous to the proposed transition states for the Evans auxiliary. NOTE: the structure of sparteine shown below is missing a N atom.


Organocatalysis

A more recent development is the use of chiral secondary amine
Amine
Amines are organic compounds and functional groups that contain a basic nitrogen atom with a lone pair. Amines are derivatives of ammonia, wherein one or more hydrogen atoms have been replaced by a substituent such as an alkyl or aryl group. Important amines include amino acids, biogenic amines,...

 catalysts. These secondary amines form transient enamine
Enamine
An enamine is an unsaturated compound derived by the reaction of an aldehyde or ketone with a secondary amine followed by loss of H2O.The word "enamine" is derived from the affix en-, used as the suffix of alkene, and the root amine. This can be compared with enol, which is a functional group...

s when exposed to ketones, which may react enantioselectively with suitable aldehyde electrophiles. The amine reacts with the carbonyl to form an enamine, the enamine acts as an enol-like nucleophile, and then the amine is released from the product all—the amine itself is a catalyst. This enamine catalysis method is a type of organocatalysis
Organocatalysis
In organic chemistry, the term Organocatalysis refers to a form of catalysis, whereby the rate of a chemical reaction is increased by an organic catalyst referred to as an "organocatalyst" consisting of carbon, hydrogen, sulfur and other nonmetal elements found in organic compounds...

, since the catalyst is entirely based on a small organic molecule. In a seminal example, proline
Proline
Proline is an α-amino acid, one of the twenty DNA-encoded amino acids. Its codons are CCU, CCC, CCA, and CCG. It is not an essential amino acid, which means that the human body can synthesize it. It is unique among the 20 protein-forming amino acids in that the α-amino group is secondary...

 efficiently catalyzed the cyclization of a triketone:



This reaction is known as the Hajos-Parrish reaction (also known as the Hajos-Parrish-Eder-Sauer-Wiechert reaction, referring to a contemporaneous report from Schering of the reaction under harsher conditions). Under the Hajos-Parrish conditions only a catalytic amount of proline is necessary (3 mol%). There is no danger of an achiral background reaction because the transient enamine intermediates are much more nucleophilic than their parent ketone enols. This strategy is particularly powerful because it offers a simple way of generating enantioselectivity in reactions without using transition metals, which have the possible disadvantages of being toxic or expensive.

It is interesting to note that proline-catalyzed aldol reactions do not show any non-linear effects (the enantioselectivity of the products is directly proportional to the enantiopurity of the catalyst). Combined with isotopic labelling evidence and computational studies
Computational chemistry
Computational chemistry is a branch of chemistry that uses principles of computer science to assist in solving chemical problems. It uses the results of theoretical chemistry, incorporated into efficient computer programs, to calculate the structures and properties of molecules and solids...

, the proposed reaction mechanism
Reaction mechanism
In chemistry, a reaction mechanism is the step by step sequence of elementary reactions by which overall chemical change occurs.Although only the net chemical change is directly observable for most chemical reactions, experiments can often be designed that suggest the possible sequence of steps in...

 for proline-catalyzed aldol reactions is as follows:



This strategy allows the otherwise challenging cross-aldol reaction between two aldehydes. In general, cross-aldol reactions between aldehydes are typically challenging because they can polymerize
Polymerization
In polymer chemistry, polymerization is a process of reacting monomer molecules together in a chemical reaction to form three-dimensional networks or polymer chains...

 easily or react unselectively to give a statistical mixture of products. The first example is shown below:



In contrast to the preference for syn adducts typically observed in enolate-based aldol additions, these organocatalyzed aldol additions are anti-selective. In many cases, the organocatalytic conditions are mild enough to avoid polymerization. However, selectivity requires the slow syringe-pump controlled addition of the desired electrophilic partner because both reacting partners typically have enolizable protons. If one aldehyde has no enolizable protons or alpha- or beta-branching, additional control can be achieved.

An elegant demonstration of the power of asymmetric organocatalytic aldol reactions was disclosed by MacMillan and coworkers in 2004 in their synthesis of differentially protected carbohydrate
Carbohydrate
A carbohydrate is an organic compound with the empirical formula ; that is, consists only of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, with a hydrogen:oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 . However, there are exceptions to this. One common example would be deoxyribose, a component of DNA, which has the empirical...

s. While traditional synthetic methods accomplish the synthesis of hexose
Hexose
In organic chemistry, a hexose is a monosaccharide with six carbon atoms, having the chemical formula C6H12O6. Hexoses are classified by functional group, with aldohexoses having an aldehyde at position 1, and ketohexoses having a ketone at position 2....

s using variations of iterative protection-deprotection strategies, requiring 8–14 steps, organocatalysis can access many of the same substrates using an efficient two-step protocol involving the proline-catalyzed dimerization of alpha-oxyaldehydes followed by tandem Mukaiyama aldol cyclization.



The aldol dimerization of alpha-oxyaldehydes requires that the aldol adduct, itself an aldehyde, be inert to further aldol reactions.
Earlier studies revealed that aldehydes bearing alpha-alkyloxy or alpha-silyloxy substituent
Substituent
In organic chemistry and biochemistry, a substituent is an atom or group of atoms substituted in place of a hydrogen atom on the parent chain of a hydrocarbon...

s were suitable for this reaction, while aldehydes bearing Electron-withdrawing groups such as acetoxy were unreactive. The protected erythrose
Erythrose
Erythrose is a tetrose carbohydrate with chemical formula C4H8O4. It has one aldehyde group and so is part of the aldose family. The natural isomer is D-erythrose....

 product could then be converted to four possible sugars via Mukaiyama aldol addition followed by lactol
Lactol
In organic chemistry, a lactol is the cyclic equivalent of a hemiacetal or a hemiketal.The compound is formed by the intramolecular nucleophilic addition of a hydroxyl group to the carbonyl group of an aldehyde or a ketone....

 formation. This requires appropriate diastereocontrol in the Mukaiyama aldol addition and the product silyloxycarbenium ion
Carbenium ion
A carbenium ion is a carbocation of the trivalent and classical type R3C+. It is one of two types of carbocation, the other being a carbonium ion. In older literature a carbocation of the type R3C+ may still be referred to as a carbonium ion, a term that is used now for five-coordinate carbon...

 to preferentially cyclize, rather than undergo further aldol reaction. In the end, glucose
Glucose
Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

, mannose
Mannose
Mannose is a sugar monomer of the aldohexose series of carbohydrates. Mannose is a C-2 epimer of glucose. It is not part of human metabolism, but is a component of microbial cell walls, and is therefore a target of the immune system and also of antibiotics....

, and allose
Allose
Allose is an aldohexose sugar. It is a rare monosaccharide that has been isolated from the leaves of the African shrub Protea rubropilosa. It is soluble in water and practically insoluble in methanol.Allose is a C-3 epimer of glucose....

 were synthesized:


"Direct" aldol additions

In the usual aldol addition, a carbonyl compound is deprotonated to form the enolate. The enolate is added to an aldehyde or ketone, which forms an alkoxide, which is then protonated on workup. A superior method, in principle, would avoid the requirement for a multistep sequence in favor of a "direct" reaction that could be done in a single process step. One idea is to generate the enolate using a metal catalyst that is released after the aldol addition mechanism. The general problem is that the addition generates an alkoxide, which is much more basic than the starting materials. This product binds tightly to the metal, preventing it from reacting with additional carbonyl reactants.
One approach, demonstrated by Evans, is to silylate the aldol adduct. A silicon reagent such as TMSCl is added in the reaction, which replaces the metal on the alkoxide, allowing turnover
Turnover number
Turnover number has two related meanings:In enzymology, turnover number is defined as the maximum number of molecules of substrate that an enzyme can convert to product per catalytic site per unit of time and can be calculated as follows: kcat = Vmax/[E]T...

 of the metal catalyst. Minimizing the number of reaction steps and amount of reactive chemicals used leads to a cost-effective and industrially useful reaction.



A more recent biomimetic approach by Shair uses beta-thioketoacids as the nucleophile. The ketoacid moiety is decarboxylated
Decarboxylation
Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction that releases carbon dioxide . Usually, decarboxylation refers to a reaction of carboxylic acids, removing a carbon atom from a carbon chain. The reverse process, which is the first chemical step in photosynthesis, is called carbonation, the addition of CO2 to...

 in situ
In situ
In situ is a Latin phrase which translated literally as 'In position'. It is used in many different contexts.-Aerospace:In the aerospace industry, equipment on board aircraft must be tested in situ, or in place, to confirm everything functions properly as a system. Individually, each piece may...

. The process is similar to the way malonyl-CoA
Malonyl-CoA
Malonyl-CoA is a coenzyme A derivative.-Functions:It plays a key role in chain elongation in fatty acid biosynthesis and polyketide biosynthesis....

 is used by Polyketide synthase
Polyketide synthase
Polyketide synthases are a family of multi-domain enzymes or enzyme complexes that produce polyketides, a large class of secondary metabolites, in bacteria, fungi, plants, and a few animal lineages...

s. The chiral ligand
Chiral ligand
In chemistry a chiral ligand is a specially adapted ligand used for asymmetric synthesis. This ligand is an enantiopure organic compound which combines with a metal center by chelation to form an asymmetric catalyst. This catalyst engages in a chemical reaction and transfers its chirality to the...

 is case is a bisoxazoline
Bisoxazoline ligand
In chemistry, bisoxazoline ligands are chiral ligands based on a bis oxazoline skeleton and used in combination with a metal compound in asymmetric synthesis as a chiral catalyst . Three frequently encountered such ligands are PyBOX, tBuBOX and PhBOX...

). Interestingly, aromatic and branched aliphatic aldehydes are typically poor substrates.


Biological aldol reactions

Examples of aldol reactions in biochemistry include the splitting of fructose-1,6-bisphosphate into dihydroxyacetone
Dihydroxyacetone
Dihydroxyacetone , or DHA, also known as glycerone, is a simple carbohydrate with formula .DHA is primarily used as an ingredient in sunless tanning products. It is often derived from plant sources such as sugar beets and sugar cane, and by the fermentation of glycerin.-Chemistry:DHA is a...

 and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate in the second stage of glycolysis
Glycolysis
Glycolysis is the metabolic pathway that converts glucose C6H12O6, into pyruvate, CH3COCOO− + H+...

, which is an example of a reverse ("retro") aldol reaction catalyzed by the enzyme aldolase A.

See also

  • Aldol-Tishchenko reaction
    Aldol-Tishchenko reaction
    The Aldol-Tishchenko reaction is a tandem reaction involving an Aldol reaction and a Tishchenko reaction. In organic synthesis it is a method to convert aldehydes and ketones into 1,3-hydroxyl compounds. The reaction sequence in many examples starts from conversion of a ketone into an enolate by...

  • Baylis-Hillman reaction
  • Ivanov reaction
    Ivanov reaction
    The Ivanov reaction is the chemical reaction of the dianions of aryl acetic acids with electrophiles, primarily carbonyl compounds or isocyanates...

  • Reformatsky reaction
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