Because a wide array of nitrogen-containing compounds exhibit bioactivity, the development of new methods for the formation of C-N bonds is a central challenge in organic chemistry. Furthermore, because the two mirror-image isomers ("enantiomers") of a molecule generally have different biological activity due to the "handedness" of the molecules of life (e.g., peptides, DNA, RNA, and carbohydrates), there is a need in the biomedical community to efficiently generate compounds in stereoisomerically pure form. Finally, the development of catalyzed reactions is desirable, since they often offer advantages from the standpoints of efficiency/economy. This proposal is directed at addressing all three of these challenges, specifically, the discovery of new methods for the catalytic and enantioselective synthesis of nitrogen-containing compounds. In particular, the research plan describes the development of the first photoinduced, copper-catalyzed methods for the construction of C-N bonds. The coupling reactions are anticipated to proceed under unusually mild conditions, to have broad applicability for the generation of diverse families of nitrogen-containing compounds, and to proceed with good stereoselectivity (when applicable). Furthermore, the research plan describes mechanistic studies (e.g., stereochemical, mass spectrometry, fluorometry, and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy) that will provide insight into the unusual reaction pathway of these photoinduced, copper-catalyzed C-N bond-forming reactions, which likely proceed through a radical intermediate.
The development of efficient new chemical processes has an impact on a wide array of disciplines that require the synthesis of organic compounds (e.g., biological chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, and biology). Nitrogen-containing compounds have a high propensity to be bioactive (e.g., AbilifyTM, CrestorTM, CymbaltaTM, LipitorTM, NexiumTM, and PlavixTM);consequently, the discovery of novel approaches to the synthesis of nitrogen-containing compounds, which is the focus of this proposal, is an important endeavor for the biomedical community.