Development of optical sensing protocols for the rapid determination of enantiomeric excess in high-throughput screening
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Asymmetric synthesis has become an important tool to prepare enantiomerically pure compounds because it avoids the wasteful discarding of the undesired enantiomer. Combinatorial libraries allow for much faster screening for new and better asymmetric catalysts/auxiliaries, but they generate a large number of samples whose enantiomeric excess (ee) cannot be determined rapidly. This bottleneck currently limits the applicability of such approaches. We propose here the use of faster optical techniques for the determination of ee using common instrumentation, such as UV-vis spectrophotometers, and circular dichroism (CD) spectrophotometers. Our methods are easily transitioned to the microwell format commonly used in parallel/combinatorial chemistry endeavors, just by using common microplate readers: this allows for an even more rapid analysis of samples and a seamless integration in a high-throughput workflow. We have shown that enantioselective indicator displacement assays can be developed to determine ee in a high-throughput fashion utilizing either a UV-vis spectrophotometer or a 96-well plate reader. Two chiral receptors and a commercial pH indicator were used to enantioselectively discriminate α-amino acids by monitoring the degree of indicator displacement. The two receptors were able to enantioselectively discriminate 13 of the 17 analyzed α-amino acids and accurately determine ee values of independent test samples with the use of ee calibration curves. Moreover, a sample of valine was synthesized through an asymmetric reaction, whose ee was then determined with our assay and compared to chiral HPLC and 1H NMR chiral shift reagent analysis, with excellent correlation. An artificial neural network was also successfully employed in the analyses, as an alternative to ee calibration curves. Both techniques consistently produced results accurate enough for preliminary determination of ee in a rapid manner, allowing for high throughput screening (HTS) of asymmetric reactions. The use of circular dichroism spectroscopy with chiral BINAP was also explored to enantioselectively discriminate α-chiral ketones. The ketones were derivatized with pyridyl hydrazines to produce hydrazones, which were then bound to enantiomerically pure [Cu(I)(BINAP)]+, forming diastereomeric complexes with differential steric interactions leading to different degrees of twist in the BINAP moiety and characteristic signatures in the CD spectrum, as a function of sample ee.