Esters of proteinogenic amino acids efficiently catalyse the formation of erythrose and threose under potentially prebiotic conditions in the highest yields and enantioselectivities yet reported. Remarkably while esters of (L)-proline yield (L)-tetroses, esters of (L)-leucine, (L)-alanine and (L)-valine generate (D)-tetroses, offering the potential to account for the link between natural (L)-amino acids and natural (D)-sugars. The effect of pH and NaCl on the yields and enantioselectivities was also investigated and was shown to be significant, with the optimal enantioselectivities occurring at pH 7.
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Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry
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