Quinone reduction by organo-osmium half-sandwich transfer hydrogenation catalysts

Elizabeth M. Bolitho, Nathan G. Worby, James Coverdale, Juliusz A. Wolny, Volker Schunemann, Peter J. Sadler

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Organo-osmium(II) 16-electron complexes [OsII6-arene)(R-PhDPEN)] (where η6-arene = para-cymene or biphenyl) can catalyze the reduction of prochiral ketones to optically pure alcohols in the presence of a hydride source. Such complexes can achieve the conversion of pyruvate to unnatural d-lactate in cancer cells. To improve the catalytic performance of these osmium complexes, we have introduced electron-donor and electron-acceptor substituents (R) into the para (R1) or meta (R2) positions of the chiral R-phenyl-sulfonyl-diphenylethylenediamine (R-PhDPEN) ligands and explored the reduction of quinones, potential biological substrates, which play a major role in cellular electron transfer chains. We show that the series of [OsII6-arene)(R-PhDPEN)] derivatives exhibit high turnover frequencies, enantioselectivities (>92%), and conversions (>93%) for the asymmetric transfer hydrogenation (ATH) of acetophenone-derived substrates and reduce duroquinone and menadione to their di-alcohol derivatives. Modeling of the catalysis using density functional theory (DFT) calculations suggests a mechanism involving formic acid deprotonation assisted by the catalyst amine groups, phenyl-duroquinone stacking, hydride transfer to OsII, possible CO2 coordination, and tilting of the η6-arene ring, followed by hydride transfer to the quinone. These findings not only reveal subtle differences between Ru(II) and Os(II) catalysts, but also introduce potential biological applications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3012-3023
Issue number17
Early online date24 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Aug 2021


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