Asymmetric base hydrolysis of α-chiral esters with synthetic small-molecule catalysts is described. Quaternary ammonium salts derived from quinine were used as chiral phase-transfer catalysts to promote the base hydrolysis of N-protected amino acid hexafluoroisopropyl esters in a CHCl3/NaOH (aq) via dynamic kinetic resolution, providing the corresponding products in moderate to good yields (up to 99%) with up to 96:4 er. Experimental and computational mechanistic studies using DFT calculation and pseudotransition state (pseudo-TS) conformational search afforded a TS model accounting for the origin of the stereoselectivity. The model suggested π-stacking and H-bonding interactions play essential roles in stabilizing the TS structures.
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