Exceptionally rapid oxime and hydrazone formation promoted by catalytic amine buffers with low toxicity†
Hydrazone and oxime bond formation between α-nucleophiles (e.g. hydrazines, alkoxy-amines) and carbonyl compounds (aldehydes and ketones) is convenient and is widely applied in multiple fields of research. While the reactants are simple, a substantial drawback is the relatively slow reaction at neutral pH. Here we describe a novel molecular strategy for accelerating these reactions, using bifunctional buffer compounds that not only control pH but also catalyze the reaction. The buffers can be employed at pH 5–9 (5–50 mM) and accelerate reactions by several orders of magnitude, yielding second-order rate constants of >10 M−1 s−1. Effective bifunctional amines include 2-(aminomethyl)imidazoles and N,N-dimethylethylenediamine. Unlike previous diaminobenzene catalysts, the new buffer amines are found to have low toxicity to human cells, and can be used to promote reactions in cellular applications.